Different Houses: The Distribution of Earmarks in the U.S. House and Senate



Nearly all studies of pork-barrel politics in the U.S. Congress focus on the House, biasing our conception of how politics influences federal spending and skewing our attention toward factors that are active in the House. This article highlights differences between the Senate and House in how pork is allocated. We identify four important differences between the House and Senate, generate hypotheses regarding how each difference should influence the distribution of pork projects, and test these hypotheses using data from earmarks in the Appropriations bills passed by the two chambers for fiscal year 2008. The results support three of our four hypotheses, suggesting that senators are driven by different motivations than House members. These results imply that theoretical accounts of pork-barrel spending need to account for these interchamber differences. Our findings also highlight how studies of legislative behavior, more generally, need to account for important differences in legislative structure and organization.