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Earmark Reforms Under the New Direction Congress, 2007-2009

Earmark Reforms Implemented in 110th Congress, 2007-2008

  • 2007 Moratorium.  In January 2007, when Democrats took control of Congress, we imposed a one-year moratorium on earmarks for 2007 until a reformed process could be put in place.
  • Rules for Transparency.  Democrats created unprecedented rules for transparency for earmarks.  Under the new rules, created in 2007, each bill must be accompanied by a list identifying each earmark that it includes and which member requested it.  Those lists are available online before the bill is ever voted on.  In the House, each earmark on those lists is backed up by a public letter from the requesting member identifying the earmark, the entity that will receive the funds and their address, what the earmark does, and a certification that neither the requesting member nor their spouse will benefit from it financially.
  • Significant Reductions.  In the FY 2008 bills, the total dollar amount earmarked for non-project-based accounts in appropriations bills was reduced by 43 percent below the FY 2006 level.

Additional Earmark Reforms Being Implemented in 111th Congress, 2009

  • Beginning with FY 2010 Bills, Expanding Transparency Requirements - Requiring All Members' Requests for Earmarks To Also Be Publicly Disclosed.  Beginning with FY 2010 bills, which appropriations subcommittees will begin working on this spring, to offer more opportunity for public scrutiny of Member requests, Members will be required to post information on their earmark requests on their Member sites at the time the request is made explaining the purpose of the earmark and why it is a valuable use of taxpayer funds.
  • Beginning with FY 2010 Bills, Requiring Even Earlier Public Disclosure.  Beginning with FY 2010 bills, to increase public scrutiny of committee decisions, earmark disclosure tables will be made publicly available the same day as the House or Senate Subcommittee reports the bill (rather than the same day as the Full Committee reports the bill, as under the current rules.)
  • Further Cuts.  For the FY 2008 bills, as mentioned above, earmark funding levels were reduced by 43 percent below the FY 2006 level for non-project-based accounts.  For the FY 2009 bills, including the three FY 2009 bills already enacted and the Omnibus bill that will be considered by the House during the week of February 23, earmark funding levels will continue to be reduced further - reducing them by MORE THAN 43 percent below the FY 2006 level.  Then, for the FY 2010 bills, earmark funding levels will be reduced to 50 percent below the FY 2006 level.