The Relationship between Earmarks and Spending on Infrastructure
Thompson, Megan Caitlin
The federal budget process is a complex procedure that involves countless rules and processes, millions of work hours on behalf of tens of thousands of staff in the executive and legislative branches and the active participation of the President and Members of Congress. A critical component of the annual federal budget procedure is the Congressional Appropriations process—the process in which Congress uses its power under the Constitution to appropriate federal funds. Up until 2011, a common practice by which Members of the House of Representatives and Congress appropriated funds, particularly for parochial interests, was earmarking. This paper examines whether earmarks had an effect on federally funded projects. Specifically, I will study infrastructure projects and if the lack of earmarks has limited or reduced spending on these projects. I hypothesize that the ban on earmarks reduced infrastructure spending. However contrary to my hypothesis, my analysis reveals that there was actually increased spending on infrastructure projects following the implementation of the ban.
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