Hillary Clinton Earmark Queen

Hillary Clinton has been amazingly effective in bringing home the pork to New York, Alexander Bolton reports for The Hill.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) has won tens of millions of dollars more in federal earmarks this year than her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, even though two of them have significantly more Senate seniority.

A review of the first three appropriations conference reports finished by Senate and House negotiators shows that Clinton has successfully requested at least $530 million worth of projects.

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), Clinton’s chief rival for the nomination, has so far won $40.6 million in earmarked funds for his constituents, despite the fact that his home-state colleague and booster, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), sits on the Appropriations Committee.

Clinton’s greater haul of federal funds may be due partly to her four more years of Senate seniority than Obama. But seniority is only part of it. Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), who is also running for president and first won election to the Senate in 1972, garnered $67 million worth of projects. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who came to the Senate in 1981, helped place $100 million worth of earmarks in the three spending bills that have emerged from House-Senate negotiations.

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the lone Republican presidential candidate in the Senate, did not win a single earmark in the spending bills. He has chosen instead to position himself on the hustings as a leading critic of excessive government spending. “He has never requested an earmark,” said McCain spokeswoman Melissa Shuffield.

Clinton has seized funds at an impressive rate by knowing what she wants and working methodically to reach her goal, which is the way she is reputed to work on almost everything.

[…]

“Her staff is very efficient,” Shakir said. “They’re on top of the legislative process a lot more than even the staffs of more senior members of the committee. “On top of that, they know what they want; they are knowledgeable about the process and get requests in early, and I think that has a lot to do with it.”

While I’m no fan of earmarks and think the process for allocating federal monies is badly broken, this is how the game is played and she’s playing it extraordinarily well. Despite being a relative novice in the Senate, she’s picked her committee assignments well, assembled an efficient staff, and figured out how to work with her colleagues. This while rather obviously spending much of her tenure running for the White House.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.