Surprise! Pork Barrel Politics Is Back

Surprise! Pork Barrel Politics Is Back

John Hart warned of the dangers of Congress reintroducing earmarks in The Dispatch.

At their retreat last week in Philadelphia House Democrats called on Americans to make shared sacrifices to protect democracy. Congress itself, however, got a waiver. After an 11-year moratorium, Democrats and Republicans joined forces to restart what disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff once called the “earmark favor factory.” Pork barrel politics is back. 

The $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill President Biden signed into law includes more than 5,000 pork projects worth $9.7 billion. That’s less than the 2006 peak, when Congress funded nearly 16,000 earmarks, but close to the early 2000s levels when Abramoff was in his prime. Projects include critical national priorities like $1.6 million for the “equitable growth of shellfish aquaculture” in Rhode Island, $800,000 for “artist lofts” in California, and $1.5 million for improvements at St. George Theater in New York.

In 2011, my former boss, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), and other reformers like Sens. John McCain (R-Arizona), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) helped impose the ban after fighting the practice since the 1990s.  

Read the full article on The Dispatch.

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