WASHINGTON (July 8, 2020)—The R Street Institute is excited to announce its first publication in a new series focused on congressional spending and budgetary decision making. With less than 120 days until this year’s election and in the wake of the continued Covid-19 pandemic, transparency about how representatives prioritize spending has never mattered more.

This series will examine topics such as which Members of Congress protect Americans’ wallets, who talks a big game about spending on the campaign trail versus those who actually keep their word on the floor and how Members’ spending habits have changed over time.

All of this analysis will be done using SpendingTracker.org, a website created and run by Jonathan Bydlak, R Street’s Director of Fiscal and Budget Policy. Spending Tracker automatically aggregates the new spending contained in each bill voted on by members in the House and Senate, according to official estimates, to create each Member of Congress’ total “number” based on what they have voted for.

“We all tend to focus our attention on the big, ‘budget-busting’ bills that come before Congress, but the reality is that almost every bill can affect the budget in some way. The beauty of the Spending Tracker is that it’s comprehensive and objective, because it accounts for all legislation where official estimates are available,” Bydlak said. “The result is an easy-to-compare track record for all Members of Congress where the data does the talking, rather than relying on statements from politicians or the opinions of pundits.”

In such biased times, Spending Tracker sheds light on Congressional action based on the numbers themselves. We hope that Spending Tracker can serve as a tool for Hill staff, members of the press, researchers and anyone who cares about how their tax dollars are being spent.

Read the first piece in the series, “The Power of the Spending Tracker,” here.