Tuesday, May 09, 2006

CAGW: "Once again, the Senate demonstrates its appetite for pork...”

CCAGW Blasts Senate for Bloated Emergency Bill:
Washington, D.C. The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) today criticized the Senate for voting 78-20 to pass the $109 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2006 (HR 4929). President Bush requested $92.2 billion to pay for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and hurricane aid in the Gulf Coast. The House passed a $91.9 billion bill in March and President Bush threatened to veto any bill that exceeds his request.

“Once again, the Senate demonstrates its appetite for pork,” CCAGW President Tom Schatz said. “Senators use their power to increase spending and make virtually no effort to find offsets or eliminate waste.”

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) offered an amendment, divided into 19 sections, to strip non-emergency projects from the bill. An amendment to block the $700 million “railway to nowhere” in Mississippi failed by a vote of 47-50. An amendment to block a $500 million of corporate welfare for defense contractor Northrop Grumman failed by a vote of 48-51. The Senate also rejected Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) amendment to remove $6 million for two Hawaii sugar plantations. The only good news was that the Senate passed one Coburn amendment to remove $15 million for seafood promotion strategies.

Supplemental appropriations bills are exempt from spending caps and other budget controls. Members of Congress load them up with unrequested and unnecessary spending. The bill includes $3.9 billion for farm aid and $1.1 billion for the fishing industry. New England senators added $20 million to help the region’s fishing industry recover from a bad harvest.

“It’s outrageous how Congress stretches the definition of ‘emergency’ spending,” Schatz continued. “Fishing and agricultural interests already receive generous federal subsidies. A short-term slump does not warrant still more handouts from taxpayers.

“Emergency spending is a giant accounting gimmick, a way for the legislative and executive branches to obscure the true cost of government. Since it is no surprise that operations in Iraq will continue in 2006, its funding should go through the normal budget process. At a minimum, President Bush should veto the bill if Congress fails to reduce its cost. Ultimately, Congress needs to reform the budget process to prevent the routine abuse of emergency supplementals,” Schatz concluded...


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