Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) gets a selfie with Faye. (CQ Roll Call)
Earlier today, at a Capitol Hill press conference, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) announced the discovery of 123 earmarks costing taxpayers $5.1 billion in H.R. 2029, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, the omnibus spending bill funding the federal government for fiscal year (FY) 2016. This marks the fourth time that members of Congress have violated the earmark moratorium adopted in FY 2011 in order to waste vital taxpayer dollars on parochial and non-essential pet projects.
In the current fiscal year, the number of earmarks has increased by 17 percent over FY 2015, and their total cost has jumped by 21 percent. While this year’s $5.1 billion cost remains far below the record of $29 billion set 10 years ago, it represents one-third of the $15.3 billion in earmarks identified by CAGW since the moratorium took effect.
In short, the 2016 Congressional Pig Book reveals that earmarks are once again on the rise, and this time with very little transparency.
Among the egregious examples of pork-barrel waste highlighted in the 2016 Pig Book are $8 million for an aquatic plant control program, double the $4 million earmarked in FY 2015; another $40 million to upgrade the M1 Abrams tank, an effort opposed by the Pentagon; and an additional $5.9 million for the East-West Center in Hawaii, a program so deserving of extinction that the State Department has attempted to eliminate it for years.
CAGW was joined at the press conference by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Reps. Bill Flores (R-Texas) and Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.). Also in attendance were CAGW’s mascot, “Pig Foot,” along with our live porcine pal, Faye.