1,000 fewer earmarks in 2009

James Hohmann, Politico

The stigma of earmarks is clearly having some effect on members of Congress – the number of earmarks dropped by 1,000 and the dollar total on pork projects went down $3 billion in the last fiscal year, according to Citizens Against Government Waste.

The government watchdog group released its annual pink-covered “Pig Book” on Wednesday, revealing that Congress is indeed reducing its pork diet. But only slightly – there were still 9,129 earmarks worth $16.5 billion last fiscal year.

“So while it’s good news, it’s still above the historical average and it’s still not at the level that President Obama promised when he took office, which was $7.8 billion,” said Tom Schatz, the president of the nonpartisan advocacy group, during a half-hour press conference in a hotel ballroom near the Capitol.

Forty-seven House members (11 Democrats and 36 Republicans) and six senators (three Republicans and three Democrats) did not request a single earmark. The top Senate earmark recipient was Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee. The top House recipient, per capita, was Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.).

Several fiscal conservatives showed up at the CAGW rollout Wednesday to praise the group.

“You have made a difference,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), who has long championed the earmark issue and now highlights it with renewed vigor in light of his competitive primary challenge.

McCain said the earmark process is “pernicious and corrupting.”

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