Congressional Pig Book Exposes Billions in Pork Spending


The latest edition of the Congressional Pig Book, published by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), has revealed a significant increase in earmark spending by U.S. lawmakers. This year’s report highlights $26.1 billion in pork-barrel projects for fiscal year 2024, marking a substantial rise from the previous year​​.

Earmarks, often referred to as "pork," are funds allocated by Congress for specific projects, typically benefiting a legislator's local constituency.

This practice has been criticized for fostering wasteful spending and for being a tool for political favoritism. The report notes that the number of earmarks has surged by 43.9% compared to the previous fiscal year, reflecting a broader trend of increasing earmark allocations​.

The 2024 Pig Book emphasizes that a small group of powerful legislators on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are responsible for a disproportionate share of these earmarks.

For instance, Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-Maine) tops the list with 231 earmarks totaling $575.6 million. Other top recipients include Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Angus King (I-Maine), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who collectively received over $2.3 billion in earmarks​.

This year's Pig Book also underscores the lack of transparency in the earmark process. More than one-third of the earmark spending, amounting to $8.2 billion, was approved without any attribution, meaning no specific lawmakers were named as sponsors of these projects. This opaque practice complicates efforts to hold legislators accountable for their spending decisions​.

Critics argue that earmarks contribute to government waste and corruption, recalling past scandals that led to a moratorium on earmarks from 2011 to 2021. Despite the moratorium, earmark spending has made a robust comeback, with the current total being the largest since fiscal year 2010​.

CAGW President Tom Schatz emphasized that the continued growth in earmark spending highlights the need for a permanent ban to prevent the recurrence of wasteful and corrupt practices in Congress. The report serves as a call to action for fiscal responsibility and transparency in government spending​.


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