CAGW Raises Pork Advisory Level to High | Citizens Against Government Waste

CAGW Raises Pork Advisory Level to High

Press Release

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Tom Finnigan/ Lauren Cook
May 04, 2005Direct: (202) 467-5309,(202) 467-5318


Committee Considers Homeland Security Earmarks

(Washington, D.C.) – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today raised the Pork Advisory Level to High as the House Appropriations Committee considers whether to remove its self-imposed two-year old ban on earmarks in the Homeland Security appropriations bill.  CAGW’s Pork Advisory System tracks the budget process to alert citizens when their tax dollars are most in danger of being wasted.  The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security today began writing the spending bill that will fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in fiscal 2006. 

“Congressional earmarking will hinder the Department of Homeland Security in the fight against terrorism,” CAGW President Tom Schatz said.  “Having its budget sliced up by members of Congress for pet projects would help turn the DHS into a department more concerned with politics than security.”  

Earmarks are line-items in appropriations bills that designate funds for specific projects.  Most earmarks are considered “pork” by CAGW because they circumvent established budgetary procedures.  To prevent pork-barrel politics from trumping national security priorities, President Bush negotiated a ban on earmarks when the DHS was created.  The DHS currently distributes grants based on a formula and an independent review process.  The 9/11 Commission warned that earmarks would prevent federal money from getting to where it is most needed.    

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, first suggested the idea of allowing earmarks in the fiscal 2006 spending bill.  His supporters defend earmarking as way for the legislative branch to assert itself over a dysfunctional DHS bureaucracy.  The House Appropriations Committee and Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) will make the final decision on whether to permit earmarks; the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to follow their lead.          

“Arguments about departmental dysfunction and constitutional prerogatives are thinly veiled power-grabs by self-interested appropriators,” Schatz continued.  “One need look no further than the 13,977 pork projects in the fiscal 2005 federal budget and the absurd number of those projects going to the home districts and states of appropriators.  Furthermore, the $427 billion deficit and the $7.8 trillion debt cast serious doubt on Congress’s ability to micromanage the budgets of federal departments for the greater good.”    

Despite the ban, pork projects have already found their way into the Homeland Security spending bills.  CAGW’s 2005 Congressional Pig Book identified a 306 percent increase in pork-barrel spending from the 2004 to the 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act – from $423 million to $1.72 billion, respectively.   

“If pork is getting into the bill now, ending the moratorium on earmarks will open the floodgates,” Schatz concluded.  “Lobbyists are licking their chops at a potential free-for-all for federal cash.  Stripped of the ability to allocate funds based on risk and need, there is less justification for the Department of Homeland Security to exist in the first place.” 

Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation's largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.

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