The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Pork Alert Roundup

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


On July 1, 2010, Citizens Against Government Waste began issuing its annual flurry of Pork Alerts, which highlight earmarks in the annual appropriation bills.  In a perfect world, the House and the Senate would each release a version of the 12 appropriations bills throughout the summer and early fall.  However, the process rarely runs that smoothly.

The content of the appropriations bills in fiscal year (FY) 2011 are different than in past appropriations cycles.  On March 10, 2010, House Democrats vowed to abstain from requesting earmarks that would go to any for-profit entity. The next day, Republicans in the House voted to forego earmarks altogether.These decisions are bending the earmark curve down; the number of earmarks requested by the House has dramatically decreased from FY 2010.  While the Senate has yet to release any of its versions of the appropriations bills, similar moratoria were not passed in that chamber.  This is unfortunate for taxpayers, as senators tend to insert moreearmarks than their House counterparts.

Although it has long been a prime repository for pork, the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD)bill contains 459 projects worth $329.6 million, which is a 54.2 percent decrease from the 1,003 projects in FY 2010, and a 43.6 percent decrease from the FY 2010 cost of $584.1 million.Included in THUD was $750,000 for the Three Square Food Bank for the construction of a solar power array requested by Reps. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) and Dina Titus (D-Nev.).  The money could instead have been used to provide 2,250,000 meals for hungry families.  Maintaining the solar trend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) secured $500,000 for the purchase of two solar-powered ferries for the forthcoming Berkeley to San Francisco route.  Speaker Pelosi adamantly defended her request for the ferries and insisted that her project would create jobs. 

The Department of Agriculture bill contains 192 projects, costing taxpayers $143,890,000, which is a 40.4 percent decrease from the 322 projects in fiscal year 2010 and a 34.5 percent decrease from the fiscal year 2010 cost of $219,700,000.House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Reps. Michael Michaud (D-Maine) and ChelliePingree (D-Maine) formed a pork-barrel dream team and secured $1,026,000 for potato pest and disease research.  Considering the potato industry is valued by the Department of Agriculture at $3.5 billion, taxpayers should not be on the hook for this project.

The Commerce, Justice, and Science billhas 643 projects at a cost of $229.8 million which is a 40.8 percent decrease in projects from the 1,086 in 2010 and a 37.3 percent decrease in cost from $366.7 million in the House version of the fiscal year 2010 bill.  House appropriator Sam Farr (D-Calif.) requested $500,000 for bluefin tuna tagging and research at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, while House appropriator Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) managed to bring home $200,000 for the U.S. Soccer Foundation for a Youth Soccer Gang Prevention Initiative. 

The Department of Homeland Security bill for FY 2011features 73 projects worth $57.1 million, which is a 51.7 percent decrease from the 151 projects in fiscal year 2010, and a 47.9 percent decrease from the 2010 cost of $109.7 million.  Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.), the lone Republican to receive an earmark in the bill, arranged for $800,000 for the New Orleans Emergency Operations Center. 

Althoughthe number and cost of earmarks to date for FY 2011 are both lower than in FY 2010, the billsare still riddled with waste.The real test will come in the Senate.

  -- Hal Hunter

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