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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


Roll Call, a news service that covers congressional legislation, reported in July 2023 that Republican House of Representatives members put $7.4 billion and Democratic House members $2.8 billion in earmarks in fiscal 2024 spending bills.

Republican presidential candidate and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley criticized the GOP earmarks during the Aug. 23, 2023, Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee.

Republicans hold the majority in the House, giving them control over appropriations bills.

An earmark is any congressionally directed spending or tax benefit that benefits an entity or a specific state, locality or congressional district.

The Roll Call report found Democrats requested 65% of the 4,714 earmarks included in spending bills, but that those earmarks made up less than 38% of the total dollars.

Republican Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee secured the largest amount of fiscal 2024 earmarks, $273.3 million, mostly for an Army Corps of Engineers’ Chickamauga Lock project in Chattanooga, Roll Call reported.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Roll Call: Republicans hoover up earmarks in House spending bills

Fox News: No one is telling Americans the truth: Nikki Haley

Bipartisan Policy Center: The Power of the Purse: The 411 on Earmarks

Congressional Research Service: Lifting the Earmark Moratorium: Frequently Asked Questions

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for PolitiFact and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.