Congress Earmarks $3 Million for Palo Alto History Museum | Citizens Against Government Waste

Congress Earmarks $3 Million for Palo Alto History Museum

The WasteWatcher

The $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package signed by President Biden on March 15, 2022, has thousands of earmarks, including $3 million for the Palo Alto History Museum secured by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.).  The funds will be used to rehabilitate the Roth Building for the museum’s use.

Although Palo Alto has a unique history (like thousands of other cities and towns across America), a local museum is not worthy of millions of dollars in federal funding.  If local residents wish to commemorate their history, they should do so on their own dime.  After all, Palo Alto is home to nine of the Forbes 400 richest people and has a per capita income of $92,590.  With access to so much private wealth, the city of Palo Alto should turn to philanthropy, not taxpayers around the country, to fund this local project

In the past, Congress has spent tens of millions of dollars funding similar projects.  In fiscal year (FY) 2020, for example, Congress set aside $25 million in earmarks as part of the Department of Interior’s Save America’s Treasures (SAT) program.  Like those projects, Rep. Eshoo’s earmark circumvents the normal budget process, but this time it is through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Fund.  While the SAT was created “To focus public attention on our national heritage,” the Community Development Fund covers “infrastructure, economic development projects, public facilities installation, community centers, housing rehabilitation, public services” and other projects.  

Rep. Eshoo’s earmark for the Palo Alto History Museum is one of several local historical restoration projects that received funding through HUD.  For example, Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) snagged $3 million for the Joliet Area Historical Museum to rehabilitate the Old Joliet Prison historic site.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Kristin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Clarke Jeffries (D-N.Y.) were responsible for $3 million for the Permanent Galleries at the Brooklyn Museum through HUD.  The museum got $50 million from the City of New York in November, 2021.  Finally, Rep. Frederica Williams (D-Fla.) obtained $2.2 million in HUD funds to create a new Bahamian Museum of Arts and Culture in Coconut Grove.  Like the Palo Alto History Museum, funding should be supplied through private donations or ticket sales, not earmarks from HUD. 

CAGW’s 2021 Congressional Pig Book identified 285 earmarks costing taxpayers $16.8 billion.  The Palo Alto History Museum and similar projects are just a few examples of what taxpayers will find in the FY 2022 Pig Book.  These earmarks all crowd out funds distributed through the normal budgetary process in favor of parochial projects, which are more appropriately and fairly funded using local taxpayer dollars.

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