No you didnâ€™t. The Homeland Security appropriations bill started out four years ago as a pork free piece of legislation (no special projects for legislators using federal funds).Â By last yearâ€™s passage of the FY2007 bill, pork had taken hold, albeit modestly compared to other bills. This time, the FY08 appropriations bill that went to the Senate yesterday from the House includes significantly more pork than there has ever been in the bill. (See last yearâ€™s in-depth analysis by Christian Beckner.)
The FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant program, which has never been earmarked before, is bogged down with 96 earmarks totaling $51.3 million. Earmarks are found in everything from Coast Alteration of Bridges ($19 million) to research projects totaling $150 million, which includes a $27 million research institute courtesy Reps Alexander, Corchran, and Corker. There is also $20 million for interoperable communications for Mississippi, even though the total of unearmarked grants for interoperable communications in the bill is only $50 million.
No time to write more now, but see the full list â€œprojectsâ€ is on pages 102-110 of the joint explanatory statement. Earmarks are rarely defensible, but always expected. The Homeland Security bill had been a haven from this kind of selfish spending. Some, like the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, may be worth it. Letâ€™s hope the Senate gives this bill the scrutiny that forces these projects to be defended.