Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.

The economy may be creaking, the coronavirus roaring, but one thing never ceases to roll on without a care: the congressional pork barrel.

In its 2020 edition of the Congressional Pig Book, Citizens Against Government Waste shows how the special spending projects – known for years as “earmarks” — have survived and thrived during these weird and uncertain times:

For the third year in a row, members of Congress have set a record for the cost of earmarks during the supposed earmark moratorium.  This year’s Congressional Pig Book exposes 274 earmarks, a decrease of 2.8 percent from the 282 in FY 2019.  While the number of earmarks declined slightly, their cost went in the opposite direction.  Legislators added $15.9 billion in earmarks in FY 2020, an increase of 3.9 percent from the $15.3 billion in FY 2019.  The cost of the FY 2020 earmarks is only 3.6 percent less than the $16.5 billion in FY 2010, the last year prior to the moratorium.  Since FY 1991, CAGW has identified 111,417 earmarks costing $375.7 billion.

But in the context of a federal spending spree that is delivering record-shattering deficits, do wasteful earmarks still matter? If you care about fiscal responsibility and good government,  then yes, they do:

As Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and then-Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), co-leaders of the Article I Project, wrote in 2017 in regard to earmarks, “Congress needs to assert its power of the purse, but not in this manner.”  As practiced in the past, Lee and Hensarling continued, “earmarking was not the innocuous exercise of Congress’ constitutional spending power; it was the tool lobbyists and leadership used to compel members to vote for bills that their constituents – and sometimes their conscience –opposed.”  Bringing back earmarks, they wrote, “would make our job harder, make Congress weaker and make federal power more centralized, less accountable and more corrupt.”

You can read the entire 2020 Congressional Pig Book here.

Image Credit: By Joshua Doubek (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons