Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, who used his seat on the Senate Appropriations committee to argue for re-election to a fourth term, was defeated in the Republican primary. Bennett told ABC's Jonathan Karl in an interview that voters "hated" that he sat on the Appropriations Committee, using it to paint him as a Washington spender, even though many of the projects he supported brought federal dollars to Utah.
"That's what they hated," he said. "It was, 'You are a part of the fiscal problem that we have, if you're spending any money at all.'"
When Byrd, then in poor health, relinquished his post as chairman of the Appropriations Committee in 2008, he handed the gavel over to Sen. Daniel Inouye, now the second-longest serving member of the Senate, who had $200 million worth of earmarks for the current fiscal year. The ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Thad Cochran, had more than $100 million.
Republicans will use anti-Washington spending as their main weapon in the upcoming midterm elections. But for all the new disclosure online and voters' anger about the debt, and the death and retirement and political defeat of so many appropriators, many still remain on Capitol Hill and will continue to funnel money to their states and districts.