The Rise and (Relative) Fall of Earmarks: Congress and Reform, 2006–2010
Doyle, Richard B.
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Congressional earmark reform efforts began in 2006. This paper reviews the literature on earmarks and documents the rise and relative fall in earmark spending using four databases. It identifies and critiques earmark reforms, including congressional rules and initiatives taken by the appropriations committees and congressional party organizations. Rules and committee-initiated reforms were the most effective, producing significant improvements in transparency and expediting availability of information. The number of earmarks and their dollar value first dropped noticeably in 2007 after an earmark moratorium, then stabilized as reforms were implemented. It is premature to conclude that reforms will alter the policy content of earmarks or their distribution.