An amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) cleared the Senate in late June and would block $19 million in pending earmarks if it fully applied today. The measure, which still needs a House endorsement, appeared to send the message that Congress was finally following through on pledges to reign in the use of earmarks.
But the sheer volume of earmark requests by individual lawmakers for the 2011 fiscal year underscores questions about whether Congress intends to fulfill past vows to curb such spending. Draft appropriations legislation for homeland security contains tens of millions of dollars in other earmarks not addressed by Coburn’s proposal. Just seven of the total 100 homeland security earmarks disclosed by Congress carry the names of Republicans. The rest are being sponsored entirely by Democrats.