Earmark My Words


What do top earmarkers talk about in Congress? Does our money go where their mouths are?

In the case of the top ten earmarkers for FY 2008, the top words they used from 2007-2008 (110th Congress) do often align with their duties in either the Appropriations Committee or in bringing home the bacon to their home state. Six of the top ten use appropriations-related language in their top words and three use their state’s name in their top words.

The top ten earmarkers for FY 2008 were, in descending order with top word in parentheses, Rep. John Murtha (Billion), Rep. Jerry Lewis (Appropriations), Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young (Defense), Rep. Pete Visclosky (Indiana), Rep. David Obey (Billion), Rep. Norm Dicks (Million), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Trade), Rep. Harold Rogers (Kentucky), Rep. Ike Skelton (Military), Rep. Chet Edwards (Veterans). Only one of these lawmakers (Rep. Skelton) is not on the House Appropriations Committee.

Three of these lawmakers — Reps. Lewis, Murtha and Visclosky — are either under federal investigation or have been mentioned in connection to an investigation in relation to their earmarking practices.

Check out the following word cloud visualization to see what these earmarking lawmakers are talking about. Below the visualization is a list of the Appropriations committee assignment for the nine lawmakers on the committee.

Appropriations Committee Assignments
Rep. John Murtha Chairman, Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
Rep. Jerry Lewis Ranking Member, House Appropriations Committee
Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young Ranking Member, Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
Rep. Pete Visclosky Chairman, Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee (currently surrendered position); Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
Rep. David Obey Chairman, House Appropriations Committee; Chairman, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee
Rep. Norm Dicks Chairman, Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee; Defense Appropriations Subcommittee; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee
Rep. Marcy Kaptur Defense Appropriations Subcommittee; Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee; Transportation, HUD Appropriations Subcommittee
Rep. Harold Rogers Ranking Member, Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee; Defense Appropriations Subcommittee
Rep. Ike Skelton Not on Appropriations Committee
Rep. Chet Edwards Chairman, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee; Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee

Note: Earmark data comes via Taxpayer.net. Word data comes from CapitolWords.org. Only House lawmakers were used due to less than stellar earmark disclosure by the Senate. And thanks again to Kerry Mitchell for the visuals.