Citizens Against Government Waste Releases “All About Earmarks: A Brief History” | Citizens Against Government Waste

Citizens Against Government Waste Releases “All About Earmarks: A Brief History”

Press Release

September 28, 2022
For Immediate Release
September 28, 2022
Contact: Alexandra Abrams (202-467-5310)

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released “All About Earmarks:  A Brief History.”  The report tracks the history of earmarks from the early opposition by the Founding Fathers through to the present.  In fiscal year (FY) 2022, legislators added 5,138 earmarks costing $18.9 billion.

President James Monroe said in 1822 that federal money should be limited “to great national works only, since if it were unlimited it would be liable to abuse and might be productive of evil.”  His prescient words became a reality after high-profile boondoggles and an explosion of earmarks that culminated in a record $29 billion in 2006 led to jail terms for Reps. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) and Bob Ney (R-Ohio), as well as lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Congress adopted a moratorium on earmarks beginning in FY 2011.  But in January 2021, the House and Senate agreed to abandon the moratorium and formally resurrect earmarks, which makes this updated report especially timely.  Earmarks are now back, driving up spending and presenting opportunities for corruption and influence peddling.

CAGW President Tom Schatz said, “CAGW’s report cites the heroes and villains of earmarking throughout the nation’s history.  Earmarks are corrupt, costly, and inequitable.  They are not a path to unity; they are a road to fiscal ruin for taxpayers.  Since 1991, CAGW has identified 116,816 earmarks costing taxpayers $411.4 billion.  Members of Congress and taxpayers must constantly be reminded of the sordid history and adverse fiscal consequences of earmarks.  To reduce wasteful spending and hold elected officials more accountable, the practice of earmarking must be eliminated.”

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.


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Alexandra Abrams
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