Senators urge return of funds for orphaned earmarks

The Coburn-Begich bill is modeled after a 2008 Bush administration proposal that would have rescinded any highway and bridge earmark funds from the 1998 highway bill that had less than 10 percent of funds spent or obligated. That proposal only would have saved $626 million, including $389 million in 152 earmarks that had no funding obligated a decade after passage, according to the statement. 

The Coburn-Begich bill targets all appropriated funds that fit the measure's definition. 

“As we focus on reducing spending, we can take easy steps like rescinding the money for unspent earmarks," Begich said. "If an earmark hasn’t been claimed in nearly a decade, it’s unlikely it ever will be. By essentially passing a ‘Use it or lose it’ strategy, we can save roughly $500 million. That’s not chump change.”