University of Illinois at Chicago
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Partisan Asymmetries in Earmark Representation

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-25, 15:50 authored by Chris Cassella, Edward FaganEdward Fagan, Sean Theriault
This paper examines how Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives vary in their earmarking behavior. After a 10-year moratorium, Congress enabling members to request small grants for community programs in their districts in the 2021 appropriations process. As part of a reform designed to limit corruption and wasteful spending, members had to submit written justifications for the grants, which provides insight into how members of Congress view their role as representatives. In performing a content analysis on 3007 earmark justifications, we find that Democrats are more likely to name the specific social groups comprising their party coalition in their justifications; Republicans rarely do so. Democrats are also more likely to request grants on their core partisan priorities, while Republicans tend to focus on large local infrastructure projects that are seemingly unrelated to their national priorities. Finally, we find some, but limited, evidence that earmark requests are a result of the different kinds of districts that members represent.



Cassella, C., Fagan, E. J.Theriault, S. (2023). Partisan Asymmetries in Earmark Representation. Political Research Quarterly.




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