Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Hill: Murtha sparks pork envy

Feeding frenzy at the pork barrel trough:
Republican members of the Pennsylvania delegation are irritated that they’re not getting what they view as their proper share of earmarked funding allotted to the Keystone State because of what several of them believe is the disproportionate influence of Rep. John Murtha (Pa.), the second-most-senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.

Traditionally, members of the majority party receive a significantly greater share of the funding for home-district projects contained in the annual spending bills, lawmakers say. But that trend has been countered in Pennsylvania by Murtha, who outranks all but three members of the Appropriations Committee in congressional seniority. Murtha also has a strong relationship with the panel’s professional staff and has been known to deliver Democratic support to Republican leaders on close votes...

...Nearly 30 Republicans have signed a “Dear Colleague” letter drafted by Weldon, the Republican dean of the Pennsylvania delegation, calling for a moratorium on earmarks for the rest of this Congress so that lawmakers can study further ways to reform the appropriations process. The letter also calls for a moratorium on targeted tax provisions, which are tax-related versions of pet projects. The legislators are calling for a panel to study ways to reform the earmark process during the moratorium.

Weldon’s colleagues in the GOP conference have argued against a moratorium on earmarks during an election year, saying that they are politically helpful and generate campaign contributions. But Weldon has rebutted that argument by sharing data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks fundraising...


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