Well, the earmark ban lasted five months…
So much for that earmark ban. According to CNN, the defense spending bill that cleared the House on Thursday contains a provision that will allow members to spend freely on projects back home:
The defense bill that just passed the House of Representatives includes a back-door fund that lets individual members of Congress funnel millions of dollars into projects of their choosing.
This is happening despite a congressional ban on earmarks — special, discretionary spending that has funded Congress’ pet projects back home in years past, but now has fallen out of favor among budget-conscious deficit hawks.
Under the cloak of a mysteriously-named “Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund,” Congress has been squirreling away money — like $9 million for “future undersea capabilities development,” $19 million for “Navy ship preliminary design and feasibility studies,” and more than $30 million for a “corrosion prevention program.”
Roughly $1 billion was quietly transferred from projects listed in the president’s defense budget and placed into the “transfer fund.” This fund, which wasn’t in previous year’s defense budgets (when earmarks were permitted), served as a piggy bank from which committee members were able to take money to cover the cost of programs introduced by their amendments.
And take they did.
More than $600 million went to a wide number of projects, many of which appear to directly benefit some congressional districts over others.
“These amendments may very likely duck the House’s specific definition of what constitutes an earmark, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t pork,” says Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste, a government-spending watchdog group. The group believes if modification of the National Defense Authorization Act generated savings, that money should have been put toward paying down the deficit.
As if the provision in the budget that allows the government to be in a perpetual state of war wasn’t bad enough, this is another reason not to take the concern about the deficit being expressed members of both parties seriously.
Find out how your representive voted here.