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Earmarks Archives

2008 Congressional Pig Book

The Congressional Pig Book is CAGW's annual compilation of the pork-barrel projects in the federal budget. The 2008 Pig Book identified 11,610 projects at a cost of $17.2 billion in the 12 Appropriations Acts for fiscal 2008. A "pork" project is a line-item in an appropriations bill that designates tax dollars for a specific purpose in circumvention of established budgetary procedures. To qualify as pork, a project must meet one of seven criteria that were developed in 1991 by CAGW and the Congressional Porkbusters Coalition.

Citizens Against Government Waste

A pork-barrel project is a line-item in an appropriations or authorization bill that designates funds for a specific purpose in circumvention of the normal procedures for budget review. To qualify as pork, a project must meet one of seven criteria that were developed in 1991 by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Congressional Porkbusters Coalition:
  • Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
  • Not specifically authorized;
  • Not competitively awarded;
  • Not requested by the President;
  • Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
  • Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
  • Serves only a local or special interest.

The pork label is not a subjective judgment of a project’s merit. Rather, it refers to lapses in the procedures erected by Congress to review and consider the wise expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

"All About Pork: The Abuse of Earmarks and the Needed Reforms," by Tom Finnigan, Citizens Against Government Waste, March 7, 2007

Also see CAGW's blog, The Swine Line.

For links to selected CRS Reports, legislation and articles on earmarks, see our Federal Budget Links and Research Tools. Also see our blog posts about earmarks and OMB's Earmarks database.

Earmarks: Results-Oriented Strategies and Tactics in Light of Statutory and Internal Congressional Rule Changes

Capitol Learning Audio Course

April 3, 2008 10:37 AM   Link    Comments (0)

Earmarks: Everything You Need to Know

This important course gives students a solid overview of the federal budget process, highlighting ways beneficiaries of earmarks, i.e., directed congressional appropriations, influence the legislative process. Students also learn how to formulate and implement political and lobbying strategies when making their case on the Hill.

Earmarks: Everything You Need to Know, 8:30 am - 4:15 pm, March 6, 2008, Washington, DC

For links to selected CRS Reports, legislation and articles on earmarks, see our Federal Budget Links and Research Tools. Also see our blog posts about earmarks and OMB's Earmarks database.

March 3, 2008 05:07 PM   Link    Comments (0)


OMB's Earmarks database is online. And the WaPo has finished its 27-part series on lobbying.

Also see our Earmarks course.

April 8, 2007 03:57 PM   Link    Comments (0)


Congressional members, led by appropriators and an army of staff, have already figured out a new way to keep their favors in the money, and it might as well be called 1-800-EARMARKS (which unfortunately is already taken). All across Washington, members are at this moment phoning budget officers at federal agencies--Interior, Defense, HUD, you name it--privately demanding that earmarks in previous legislation be fully renewed again this year. There might not be a single official earmark in the 2007 spending bill, but thousands are in the works all the same.

And getting far less scrutiny than before--if that's even possible. Under this new regime, members don't even have to go to the trouble of slipping an earmark into a committee report, where it might later (once the voting is over) come in for criticism.

"It's a Trough Life: The secret new way of earmarks," by Kimberley A. Strassell, The Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2007

We are offering a course about earmarks on February 23, 2007: Earmarks: Everything You Need to Know.

February 12, 2007 08:07 PM   Link    Comments (0)

The Google-Like Pork Thing on the Internets

Bloggers have scored many significant victories in the political sphere in the past few years, bringing down some high-profile politicians in the process. Now they're starting to influence the legislative process, too. Which raises the question: Will they be around for the next phase, monitoring whether the projects they have pushed are funded appropriately and implemented properly?

A case in point: Earlier this year, members of the House and Senate took up the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act. The legislation would, its backers said, "create a Google-like search engine and database" that tracks $1 trillion in federal spending on contracts, grants, earmarks and loans. The bill quickly attracted dozens of co-sponsors. But then some senator or senators placed an unpublicized hold on the measure, slowing its progress.
. . .
The watchdog organization OMB Watch is in the process of developing its own database of agencies' spending under a $234,000 grant. Officials at the organization say its site, which was slated to debut in beta form in early October, does much of what the proposed federal site would do. Other experts, though, have their doubts about whether $15 million will be enough to do everything the bill envisions. And even the folks at OMB Watch acknowledge that neither they nor the government will be able to create a fully Google-like site for federal spending.

"Blog-islation," by Tom Shoop,, October 2, 2006

Maybe it could be based in West Virignia and called the "Robert Byrd Google-Like Pork Thing" ... or in Alaska and named the "Ted Stevens Internets Pork Tubes" ...

Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, S. 2590, on Thomas

Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, on Wikipedia

October 2, 2006 06:27 AM   Link    Comments (0)


The Americans for Prosperity Foundation Ending Earmarks Express has hit the road!

Follow Americans for Prosperity Foundation as we tour the country visiting the sites that have received the most egregious wastes of taxpayer dollars and fight to end the process of attaching hidden earmarks to legislation by our elected officials.

The Ending Earmarks Express

[Alan Mollohan's] seniority on the Appropriations and ethics cmtes raises larger and fundamental questions about the use and abuse of earmarks.

"Mollohan Story: A Game-Changer?" Hotline on Call, April 7, 2006

Also see

April 10, 2006 07:37 AM   Link    Comments (0)

"Lobbyists Foresee Business As Usual"

Some of Washington's top lobbyists say that they expect to find ways around congressional efforts to impose new restrictions on lobbyists' dealings with lawmakers in the wake of the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal, and that any limits will barely put a dent in the billions of dollars spent to influence legislation.

Though Congress may ultimately vote to eliminate a few of the more visible trappings of special pleading, such as gifts, free meals and luxurious trips, lobbyists say they have already found scores of new ways to buy the attention of lawmakers through fundraising, charitable activities and industry-sponsored seminars. An estimated $10 billion is spent annually to influence legislation and regulations, and that spending is not likely to be diminished by the proposed lobbying changes, these lobbyists contend.

"Lobbyists Foresee Business As Usual: Post-Abramoff Rules Expected to Be Merely a Nuisance," by Jeffrey Birnbaum, The Washington Post, March 19, 2006

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

United States Constitution, Amendment I




March 19, 2006 07:07 AM   Link    Comments (0)

More on Earmarks

We have updated our Federal Budget Links and Research Tools (scroll down) with links to selected CRS Reports, legislation and articles on earmarks.

CRS Reports on Earmarks



February 16, 2006 10:46 AM   Link    Comments (0)