Mississippi senators bank big on defense earmarks, eclipsing most Dems

By Roxana Tiron -The Hill

Two Mississippi Republicans scored hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks as part of the Pentagon spending bill, eclipsing most Democrats.

Sens. Thad Cochran, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Roger Wicker, junior senator from Mississippi, scored big in the 2011 Pentagon legislation. Cochran voted against it as part of a larger GOP maneuver to restrain federal spending.

Cochran secured $211.8 million in earmarks in the defense bill, while Wicker clinched $161 million, according to data from Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS), a nonpartisan watchdog organization.

The chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), secured $195 million in earmarks, second only to Cochran among panel members. Wicker’s earmark total was third-highest; he is not on the appropriations panel.

Cochran and Wicker did not provide comments for this article.

It is customary for the leaders of the Appropriations panel to lead in earmarks, so it is no surprise that Inouye and Cochran were among the leaders this year. Cochran also led with most earmarks in the 2010 Pentagon spending bill, according to TCS.

All but $9.7 million of the earmarks Wicker received were secured with Cochran’s help. Cochran also shared several of his earmark requests with other senators.

TCS calculates the number and value of earmarks for each member by counting up how many of the disclosed earmarks have a senator’s name attached. That means that the overall number assigned to each lawmaker includes earmarks requested jointly with other senators.

The defense appropriations bill is usually one of the most heavily earmarked bills in Congress. For fiscal 2011, Senate appropriators approved $2.6 billion in funding for member-sponsored projects.

To read more, visit: http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/120387-miss-senators-bank-big-on-defense-earmarks-

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