CROMNIPORK: CAGW Exposes Earmarks in CRomnibus Appropriations

For Immediate Release Contact: Alexandra Booze 202-467-5318
December 11, 2014  


(Washington, D.C.) - With the House of Representatives set to vote on the fiscal year (FY) 2015 CRomnibus appropriations bill, a combination of a continuing resolution (CR) and omnibus appropriations, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has reviewed the 1,603-page bill and, not surprisingly, found earmarks.

The list includes earmarks that have appeared in past appropriations bills, some for many years.  The Department of Defense (DOD) Appropriations Act includes the following:

  • $1.2 billion for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment account, which did not receive a budget request from the Obama Administration, and has received more than 70 earmarks in past years.
  • $1.1 billion for congressionally-directed medical research.
  • $255 million for two additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
  • $175.5 million for the National Guard counter-drug program.
  • $120 million for the M1 Abrams Upgrade Program.
  • $25 million for STARBASE.
  • $20 million for alternative energy research.

The $1.1 billion in the often-criticized congressionally-directed medical research earmarks is 27 percent greater than the $866.4 million in earmarks for such projects in FY 2014.

Indeed, CAGW’s 2014 Congressional Pig Book included 102 earmarks from all 12 appropriations bills worth $2.7 billion.  The first three items in the list of DOD earmarks alone exceeds that total, which means the 2015 Congressional Pig Book, when it is released in April of 2015, will include more money for earmarks than in FY 2014.

“Taxpayers will be very disappointed to learn that the first spending bill following the November elections is full of pork,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz.  “When the 114th Congress considers the FY 2016 appropriations bills, they should do so under regular order and allow members and the public sufficient time to review each bill.  The practice of bringing massive spending bills to the floor with less than 72 hours to examine the legislation must end.  Separate consideration of each bill will also allow members to offer amendments to strike earmarks and other wasteful spending.  Even better, the bills should be brought to the floor without any such projects.  The new Republican majority in the Senate will have the opportunity to go where no Senate has gone before if the appropriations bills are truly earmark-free.”       

While members of Congress have declared the appropriations bills earmark-free under the definition that was included under the earmark moratorium that began in FY 2011, CAGW’s earmark criteria, which was established in 1991, continues to identify earmarks that many outside of Capitol Hill would agree qualify as pork.

The Agriculture Appropriations Act in the FY 2015 CRomnibus includes $10 million in earmarks for high energy cost grants and $3 million for the Delta Regional Authority.  There have now been six earmarks for high energy cost grants since 2002, costing taxpayers $113.5 million.  The Delta Regional Authority has received six earmarks totaling $17.8 million since 2003.  The Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Act includes $15 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery fund, the same amount as in FY 2014.  The fund has received 20 earmarks since 2000, costing taxpayers $149.5 million.  In FY 2014, Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) took credit for the earmark.

The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act includes $21.8 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission, an increase of 39 percent above the $15,699,000 earmark in FY 2014.  The Denali Commission, an agency that even President Obama has suggested should be terminated, received another $2.6 million earmark, the same as in FY 2014.  Since FY 2000, 26 earmarks costing taxpayers $295.8 million have been provided for the commission.

The Financial Services, Interior and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bills also contain earmarks, while the Department of State Appropriations bill includes a $5.9 million earmark for the East-West Center, which is the same amount as in FY 2014.  Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) took credit for and defended the earmark, a rare occasion when the member of Congress requesting a project can be identified since transparency and accountability has been dramatically reduced under the earmark moratorium.

In addition to the earmarks found to date by CAGW, there are other objectionable provisions in the CRomnibus.  The DOD bill fully funds the Army’s Distributed Common Ground System, which for years has underperformed and exceeded cost estimates.  The CRomnibus also fully funds the Export-Import Bank.  Finally, the Internet Tax Freedom Act was extended until October 1, 2015, rather than being made permanent.

Several positive provisions in the CRomnibus include reduced funding for the Internal Revenue Services, restrictions on regulatory excess at agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, and a prohibition against transferring certain aspects of control over the Internet.  

“As members consider the CRomnibus, they should be aware that the cost of earmarks in the bill exceeds the total in CAGW’s 2014 Congressional Pig Book.  If there is another increase in earmarks in the FY 2016 appropriations bill, members of Congress will be ignoring the message sent to Washington on November 4 that government waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement must be eliminated whenever possible.  Progress had been made in reducing the amount and cost of earmarks under CAGW’s criteria between FY 2013 and 2014, but the CRomnibus is a bad step backwards.”

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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