Supplemental Pork

Senator Tom Coburn has identified 19 items (see the table below) that he believes to be wasteful pork spending in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery bill currently being debated in the United States Senate . The Senator has introduced amendments that would rescind the 19 items.

Determining if a spending earmark is truly pork generally requires a more complete project description than is provided in the text of legislation. For instance, the first of Senator Coburn’s proposed rescissions would have cut funds earmarked for the relocation of a rail line in Mississippi. Superficially, this sounds as if it could be a reasonable Katrina cleanup project. However, according to the Washington Post, the $700,000,000 is being appropriated to relocate a railway that has already been rebuilt with Federal dollars within the past year…

Mississippi’s two U.S. senators included $700 million in an emergency war spending bill to relocate a Gulf Coast rail line that has already been rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina at a cost of at least $250 million.

Republican Sens. Trent Lott and Thad Cochran, who have the backing of their state’s economic development agencies and tourism industry, say the CSX freight line must be moved to save it from the next hurricane and to protect Mississippi’s growing coastal population from rail accidents. But critics of the measure call it a gift to coastal developers and the casino industry that would be paid for with money carved out of tight Katrina relief funds and piggybacked onto funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Senate has already voted to “table” the amendment that would have eliminated this project, i.e. the $700,000,000 appropriation remains in the bill. A vote to table the second Coburn amendment, rescinding $15,000,000 allocated for “seafood promotion strategies”, did not pass. The Senate could still vote to eliminate this earmark.

Senator Lincoln Chafee voted with the porkbusting side in both cases, voting against tabling either amendment. Senator Jack Reed voted to allow a vote on rescinding the railway spending, but to preserve the seafood promotion spending.

The toughest vote for the New England delegation will be the vote on $20,000,000 earmarked for assisting New England coastal communities that were impacted by a red tide outbreak (item 13).

I Rail Line Relocation Capital Grant program (Federal Railroad Administration) $700,000,000
II Implement seafood promotion strategies (National Marine Fisheries Service) $15,000,000

V Projects listed in the Federal Highway Administration emergency relief backlog table (Federal Highway Administration) $594,000,000
VI Study for three years the profitability of shrimp and reef fish fisheries (National Marine Fisheries Service) $20,000,000
VII For the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (Corporation for National and Community Service) $20,000,000
VIII Procurement of V-22 aircraft (Navy) $230,000,000
IX Acceleration of the American River (Common Features) project in California (Army Corps of Engineers) $3,300,000
X Equip fishing vessels with logbooks to record haul-by-haul catch data (National Marine Fisheries Service) $10,000,000
XI For the Armed Forces Retirement Home (Armed Forces Retirement Home) $176,000,000
XII Equip the off-shore shrimp and reef fishery with electronic vessel monitoring systems (National Marine Fisheries Service) $10,000,000
XIII To assist New England coastal communities that were impacted by a red tide outbreak (National Marine Fisheries Service) $20,000,000
XIV Acceleration of the South Sacramento Streams project in California (Army Corps of Engineers) $6,250,000
XV Develop temporary marine services centers (National Marine Fisheries Service) $50,000,000
XVI Replacement of private fisheries infrastructure (National Marine Fisheries Service) $90,000,000
XVII Employ fishers and vessel owners (National Marine Fisheries Service) $25,000,000
XVIII Replace damaged fishing gear (National Marine Fisheries Service) $200,000,000
XIX Acceleration of construction of the Sacramento Riverbank Protection Project in California (Army Corps of Engineers) $11,300,000

Amendment III reads “Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, Sec. 7030(b) of this Act shall not take effect. Amendment IV reads “Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, Sec. 2303 of this Act shall not take effect.”

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