Iraq Bill passed because it was stuffed with billions in pork

Below is an edited press release from Citizens Against Government Watse 3-22-07:

Washington, D.C. — Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today blasted the Senate for adding special interest spending to the emergency war supplemental bill. Scheduled for markup today, the Senate Appropriations Committee bill totals $121.7 billion – $18.5 billion more than the president requested for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and disaster relief. Like the House version, the Senate bill is packed with spending items unrelated to overseas military operations…

$1.5 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers for recovery along the coast, including funding for Hawaii for an April 2006 flood;
$850 million for Department of Homeland Security grants $625M for rail/transit grants, $190M for port security grants, and $35M for urban area security grants);
$660 million for the procurement of an explosives detection system for the Transportation Security Administration;
$640 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program;
$425 million for education grants for rural areas;
$388.9 million for a backlog of Department of Transportation projects;
$165.9 million (including $60.4 million for salmon fisheries in the Klamath Basin region) for fisheries disaster relief;
$75 million for salaries and expenses for the Farm Service Agency;
$48 million in disaster construction money for NASA;
$25 million for grants through the Safe and Drug Free Schools program;
$25 million for asbestos abatement at the Capitol Power Plant;
$24 million to sugar beet producers;
$22.8 million for geothermal research and development;
$20 million for reimbursements to Nevada for “insect damage;”
$12 million for Forest Service money requested by the president in the non-emergency FY2008 budget
$3.5 million for guided tours of the Capitol;
$3 million for sugar cane; and
Allows the transfer of funds from holiday ornament sales in the Senate gift shop.

Emergency spending is basically a giant loophole. The costs of supplemental bills are not counted in official annual budget figures, but still get added to the national debt. The projects and programs slipped into supplementals often would not pass muster in the regular budget process. Presidents are historically reluctant to veto funding meant for the troops, which makes such bills a magnet for pork; President Bush has threatened to veto this year’s bill.

“Emergency spending bills are often called Christmas trees for the plentiful gifts that are tucked in for lawmakers and special interests, but this is the first with holiday ornaments already included. Taxpayers must play the Grinch and stop Congress from celebrating Christmas in March,” Schatz concluded.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.