Excerpted from an article by Mary Curtius, Los Angeles Times
Washington - Two months ago, President Bush urged Congress to act quickly on an $82 billion emergency spending bill needed to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House responded by mid-March, but in the Senate, lawmakers have been unable to resist the temptation to attach their favorite projects and causes to the legislation.
The result: A bill the Pentagon says it needs urgently has become bogged down in debate on the Senate floor and freighted with extraneous items. Typical of these “emergency” amendments are:
- $500,000 - Oral History project, University of Reno, Nevada; Sen. Harry Reid.
- $500,000 - Desalinization plant, University of Reno, Nevada: Sen. Harry Reid.
- $4 million - Fire Sciences Academy, Elko, Nevada: Sen. Harry Reid.
- $5 million - Fish Hatchery (that has already received $20 million), Ft. Peck, Montana; Sen. Conrad Burns.
- $34+ million - National Forest roads and facilities, California; Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
- $35 million - Wastewater treatment in DeSoto County, Mississippi; Sen. Thad Cochran.
- $40 million - National Nuclear Security Administration, New Mexico; Sen. Pete Domenici.
- $135 million - Watershed protection, California; Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
“Congress is bent on 'bringing home the bacon,' even if it has a negative impact on our troops,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.
So far, the Senate has cut $500 million from the president’s defense related requests and $42 million for his tsunami relief request. It has added $299 billion in domestic spending and another $137 million in a category designated “other emergency appropriations.”
“It’s disgusting,” said Sen. John McCain, R-AZ. “Congress owed it to the U.S. troops to approve the spending bill quickly and keep it focused on military and diplomatic matters. Many of the amendments are particularly egregious because the name of this bill is the Supplemental Appropriations to fight war in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The White house also has criticized spending measures Senators have attached to the bill: “The administration has concerns with items that are unrelated to the funding of the global war on terrorism or to the Indian Ocean tsunami relief and reconstruction,” a spokesman said.
Alarmed by the prospect of delays, Army officials have been reminding lawmakers that the Army needs the money by mid-May so that it can keep food, weapons and supplies flowing to the troops.
Watchdog groups have combed through the bill’s text and pronounced several projects as outside any reasonable definition of emergency.
Keith Ashdown, a policy analyst with the group Taxpayers for Common Sense said, “The Senate has opened a Pandora’s Box for Pork in its version of the measure. When it comes time for the two chambers to craft a final product, I predict that House members will say, ’The Senate got theirs, let’s get ours.’”
Jug’s Comment: When will the American people wake up to the rampant “porkers” in Congress and start electing some new blood to replace all these politicians who put “pork for their constituency” (and their reelection) ahead of the good of the nation? If term limits were ever needed, NOW is the time! Read the following article from Paul Jacob:
“Bloat. Fat. Corpulence. A billowing mass of ugly, unsustainable flesh racing against time before the body gives out. No, I'm not talking about the latest obesity story put out by the health nannies. … I'm talking about the federal government. It just keeps growing and growing.
What to do? One theory trotted out by both Grover Norquist and Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman is to starve the creature. Cut off funds. Enact more tax cuts! It sounds like a neat idea, tax-cut our way to a slimmer government. But like most neat diet ideas, it doesn't work. That's what Will Wilkinson and William Niskanen of Cato Institute have argued, recently.
The evidence, they say, flies in the face of the 'Starve The Beast' Diet Plan. You see, government doesn't feed off just taxes. It goes into debt to spend. And that's what it's doing now. Niskanen studied the actual behavior of Congress after its cut taxes. Spending tends to increase, not decrease, as tax revenue declines! They just keep feeding the beast. And the beast keeps growing. Fatter and fatter. The only solution is political discipline, say the Cato economists.
I'm pretty agreeable to all sides. Let's cut taxes and government spending at the same time. After all, we're told that the best way to lose weight is to combine a good diet with exercise. But such diets are tough. Which is why term limits make sense.
Keep politicians moving.
Bring in new political athletes who might better whip our government into shape.”