By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy
When Congress passed its $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill, with House approval in less than 24 hours, they were able to cram 5,000 earmarks totaling $9 billion into the final version of the bill.
According to the New York Times, that $9 billion total includes 3,682 earmarks totaling $5 billion from Democrats, 1,014 earmarks totaling $3.4 billion from Republicans, and 266 earmarks totaling $609 million on a bipartisan basis.
According to the New York Times, some of the largest earmarks in this bill include $132 million to the Alabama State Port Authority from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and $121 million for an aircraft maintenance hangar at a South Carolina Marine Corp Base from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). Shelby was the ranking member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and netted an impressive $551million in total earmarks from his home state. It is also the most amount among all members of Congress.
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Earmarks, the currency of corruption, are special expenditures designated for each Member of Congress’ state or district. Each member of Congress can then return the money to his or her constituents. Most of the funds are wasted on pet projects for the powerful, like tearing down vacant hotel buildings.
Each member of Congress must publish their earmarks online. Open the Books has mapped a previous round of Congressional earmarks.
It is a matter of bipartisan concern that out-of control earmarks can be a problem. Republicans as well as Democrats both take advantage handouts to their districts or states, which means that spending bills are growing.
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