Department of Defense and Lavish Expenditures | Citizens Against Government Waste

Department of Defense and Lavish Expenditures

The WasteWatcher

What do earmarks for $10 million for the National World War Two Museum in New Orleans, $18 million for a chapel in Fort Hood, and $5 million for a fence near San Diego have in common?  The House of Representatives deemed them to be important enough to include as earmarks in the committee report on H.R. 5658, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2009. 

In January, 2008, President Bush attempted to reform the earmarking process through Executive Order 13457.  Entitled “Protecting American Taxpayers from Government Spending on Wasteful Earmarks,” the order directs every federal agency to ensure that no money is spent on an earmarked project based on language in a Committee report or any other communication, such as phone-marking, from Members of Congress or their staff.  The order applies to earmarks in bills Congress will send to the President in 2008 and in future years. 

However, section 1431 of H.R. 5658 overrides the President’s instructions.  The section states, “Executive Order 13457, and any successor to that Executive Order, shall not apply to this Act or the Joint Explanatory Statement submitted by the Committee of Conference for the conference report to accompany this Act….”  In other words, Section 1431 negates the effect of the Executive Order.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) offered an amendment to strike Section 1431 but that amendment was ruled out of order.  The failure to allow the amendment proves the House is not serious about earmark reform and ending the “culture of corruption.”  As other authorization and appropriations bills move forward, these provisions may proliferate along with the pork.  That would render the Executive Order meaningless.

Amy Glynn