Congressional Republicans say they are swearing off earmarks entirely. Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress claim they’ve already reformed earmarking substantially. But this week the first ever database of earmark requests was launched, and it shows that members of Congress still aren’t exactly afraid to ask for special projects for their home districts or states. According to the database, for 2011 House members requested nearly $53 billion in earmarks, while Senators requested nearly $78 billion worth of earmarks. These figures represent earmarks requested but not yet approved by legislation. In recent years, Congress has approved about $16 billion in earmarks annually.
Three groups—Taxpayers Against Earmarks, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and WashingtonWatch.com—culled the earmark information from disclosures on Congressional Web sites. The database shows that members have requested a total of 39,294 earmarks for 2011. Republican members are responsible for requesting over $23 billion worth of earmarks, while Democrat members have tallied over $106 billion requests.