Lawmakers set aside more than $4 billion in earmarks in the just-approved 2010 defense appropriations bill, and watered down efforts to curb the practice of targeting spending for programs in members' districts.

The earmarking total for 2010 represented a 14% drop from last year's defense bill, according to an analysis by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group that is critical of the process. The House included language in its defense bill that could subject earmarks for for-profit companies to full and open competition. But the Senate resisted, meaning that senators apparently will continue to set aside spending for favored companies, the group said.

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