There are over 7,500 earmarks totaling $16 billion lawmakers are trying to negotiate to be in a year-long “omnibus” spending bill that would expire at the end of the current fiscal year — September 2023.
As key lawmakers indicated late Tuesday, there is an omnibus framework agreement. Bloomberg Government reported earlier in the day that there are over 7,500 earmarks totaling $16 billion in 2023 appropriations bills released throughout the year that could make it in the overall package.
Bloomberg Government reported that there are 3,123 earmarks totaling $7,780,973,000 from the Senate in the 2023 appropriations bills and 4,386 earmarks totaling $8,231,999,565 from the House:
The Senate included 3,123 earmarks totaling $7,780,973,000 in its fiscal 2023 appropriations bills released in July, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis of nine documents published by the Senate Appropriations Committee. A central Excel document containing all the earmarks, compiled from the nine PDF files, is available here. On the House side, lawmakers included 4,386 earmarks totaling $8,231,999,565 according to an analysis earlier this year. A central Excel doc with the House earmarks is available here. Combined, the two chambers have published 7,509 earmarks totaling $16,012,972,565.
The earmarked funding total is slightly less than 1% of the roughly $1.7 trillion government funding package lawmakers hope to finish this year. Members agreed to apply a 1% limit to the new earmarking process when they brought it back ahead of fiscal 2022, after a decade-long ban on the process.
Earmarks are spending provisions that House and Senate lawmakers have attached to bills that are likely to pass and be signed into law. The Congressional Research Service has defined earmarks as a benefit to “a specific entity or state, locality, or congressional district other than through a statutory or administrative formula or competitive award process.”
Ultimately, they allow lawmakers to put “pork” in bills that fund projects in their districts — which could also be used to reward their donors and special interests. Breitbart News’s Joel Pollak said the typical argument lawmakers use for earmarks “is that they can help to relieve partisan gridlock. A politician might agree to break ranks with his or her party if there is something in it for the folks back home (or the campaign coffers).”
More than 7,500 earmarks totaling $16 billion hang in the balance as lawmakers attempt to negotiate a government funding deal and avoid a year-long stopgap measure that wouldn’t dole out any funds to members’ favorite local projects. https://t.co/uU2oCr3fls pic.twitter.com/n4oIDhVEy7
— Bloomberg Government (@BGOV) December 13, 2022
Bloomberg Government explained that “powerful” retiring senators would be some of the “biggest winners” if negotiators can reach a deal on the omnibus. This includes Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) with $213 million in earmarks, Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) with $656 million in earmarks, and Senate Armed Services ranking member Jim Inhofe (R-OK) with $511 million in earmarks.
Shelby’s hundreds of millions in earmarks puts him with the most earmarked funds for the second year in a row, according to the analysis from Bloomberg Government:
That includes $200 million for the Alabama State Port Authority, $100 million for Department of Transportation work on the Woolsey Finnell Bridge over the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa, and $76 million for the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Medicine.
Notably, it is possible lawmakers cannot strike a deal on an omnibus package and continue to push the deal to next year after the retiring lawmakers exit Congress. In that case, it is possible their projects will be taken out during negotiations in the next Congress.