PORK BARREL POLICE ON PATROL
Mammoth legislation with a stupefying price always draws close scrutiny. Such is the case with the 1,532page, $1.1 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act, as the lumbering bill that will fund federal agencies and assorted programs through September 30 has been christened. Though it has not yet begun to smell, the big bill is already offending those of a more frugal mindset. Citizens Against Government Waste deems the legislation objectionable because it breaks the sequester budget caps. And there are earmarks which meet the watchdog group’s “longstanding, seven-point criteria for pork-barrel spending.”
Among them: $112.9 million for the Rural Utilities Service; $90 million for continued upgrade of M1 Abrams; $60 million for alternative energy research; $341 million for the Army Corps of Engineers; $4 million for aquatic plant control; $45.1 million for high-intensity drug trafficking areas programs; $98 million for the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium; $25 million for the National Predisaster Mitigation Fund; $9.3 million for Heritage Partnership Programs through the National Park Service; and $14.4 million for Rural Hospital Flexibility Grants.
The group acknowledges that there are a few provisions that would increase transparency and eliminate wasteful spending — a reduction of $49 million for the federal biofuels program, for instance — earmarks and other wasteful spending “far outweigh any positive aspects.”