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Pork barrel spending


The term pork barrel spending, also known as earmarked funds, refers to the practice of funding projects that only benefit the constituents of a single legislator. Normally, these projects are not competitively awarded or subject to congressional review. They are usually requested by a single member of Congress to benefit a single local interest. Funding for these pet projects is usually inserted in large omnibus appropriations bills at the last moment. Several years ago, members of Congress agreed to a moratorium on earmarks but those days have passed. In 2019, Congress added 274 earmarks costing taxpayers $15.3 billion, while in 2020, this total rose to $16.5 billion. Since 1991, there have been 111,417 earmarks costing taxpayers $375.7 billion. One reason earmarks flourish is because they help create support for passing controversial bills. Lawmakers seldom vote against a measure that helps their own district.

Critics say federal tax dollars should not be spent in a way that does not benefit most citizens. Supporters claim earmarks provide incentives for reluctant legislators to advance important legislation that otherwise might not pass without such inducements.

Pending Legislation: H.R.1086 - Earmark Elimination Act of 2021
Sponsor: Rep. Ralph Norman (SC)
Status: House Committee on Rules
Chair: Rep. James P. McGovern (MA)












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Poll Opening Date
November 22, 2021
Poll Closing Date
November 28, 2021


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