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Abstract

THE RECENT MORATORIUM ON EARMARKS HAS GIVEN RISE TO A NEW AND LARGELY HIDDEN PRACTICE FOR SECURING DISTRIBUTIVE BENEFITS: LETTER-MARKING. LETTER-MARKING OCCURS WHEN MEMBERS OF CONGRESS ASK (IN WRITING) THE HEAD OF AN AGENCY TO RETAIN OR ALLOCATE DISTRIBUTIVE BENEFITS IN THEIR DISTRICTS. WHILE LETTER-MARKING IS COMMON IN WASHINGTON, THE SCHOLARLY LITERATURE HAS IGNORED THIS PRACTICE. WE USE A UNIQUE DATASET OF 101 CONGRESSIONAL LETTERS RELATING TO FAA FUNDING AND EMPIRICALLY ASSESS THE DEGREE TO WHICH THE LETTER-WRITER’S CHARACTERISTICS AND THE LETTER’S CONTENT IMPACT THE LIKELIHOOD OF ACHIEVING THE OBJECTIVES. IN DOING SO, WE OFFER A NUANCED UNDERSTANDING OF LETTER-MARKING.

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