Despite campaign rhetoric against earmarks, a hefty $6.6 billion will be set aside for lawmakers’ pet projects in a $630 billion spending bill nearing approval, USA Today reports. The amount is down 11% from last year. Of note: Though both presidential candidates didn't request any earmarks this year, Joe Biden requested 18 for a total of $51.5 million.
President Bush vowed earlier to veto the bill if earmarks weren't halved from last year. Alaska’s Ted Stevens, now on trial over gifts from the oil industry, is asking for the most money at $238.5 million. "It's startling what a long shadow Senator Stevens continues to cast. He's not chairman or ranking member of the (Senate Appropriations Committee) anymore, yet he still has powerful friends and allies," says a watchdog.