According to Roll Call, a combination of internal restrictions on the number of earmarks requested and the current atmosphere around Congress in the wake of the dual Abramoff and Cunningham scandals has led to a reduction in the number of earmarks members are seeking. The key to driving down earmarks has been an internal rule implemented by House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA):
Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) directed each of the cardinals [a term for appropriations subcommittee chairmen – PB] to set limits for their specific subcommittees, with the bulk of the panels setting that ceiling at five requests per lawmaker.
Among those panels allowing more was the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education subcommittee, which restricted members to 10 requests.
Despite the reductions hard-line conservatives, such as Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), are still unhappy with the process: “Nobody’s happier to see fewer earmark requests this year than me but, with zero accountability, the earmarking process is still ripe for abuse and waste. Rank-and-file Members need the ability to attempt to strike out earmarks that are wasteful or suspicious. Anything short of that is not real reform.”