California scores over $760M in new congressional earmarks in just-passed $1.5T appropriations bill

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California Democrats, among others in both parties, are feasting on pork in the latest federal spending spree.

“In a sign of the political potency of such earmarks, many of the most vulnerable House Democrats secured sizable pots of money,” the Los Angeles Times noted.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden signed a $1.5 trillion, 2,741-page appropriations bill passed by Congress to keep the government open that contains about 500 so-called earmarks for the once Golden State and about 4,000 total across the country with a cost of about $10 billion.

The bill also contains about $14 billion for military, economic, and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Earmarks, i.e., lawmakers’ pet projects, were eliminated by the GOP House majority after Republicans retook control of the chamber following the rise of the Tea Party movement in 2010 because of a track record of waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars.

The current Democrat majority in Congress brought them back in 2021 with a new brand: community project funding.

And some might say they are back with a fury.

“The biggest projects in the state’s $766-million pot involve military construction at naval bases in Coronado and Ventura County requested by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.),” the Times reported.

“Other undertakings include $15 million to dredge Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, written by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village); $15 million to replenish beaches from Anaheim Bay to Newport Bay, pushed by Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Seal Beach); and $10 million to stabilize the Coaster commuter rail along the Del Mar Bluffs, led by Feinstein,” the Times continued.

“Other Southern California projects funded in the bill include $2 million to convert a Santa Monica parking structure into affordable housing for people experiencing homelessness, written by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and $1.5 million for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to buy a high-performance heart MRI scanner.”

“Many lawmakers had decided not to request earmarks in this year’s appropriations package, but those who did scooped up big rewards for their constituents,” The Hill explained.

“[Citizens Against Government Waste President Thomas] Schatz noted that the total number of earmarks in the bill is probably lower than how many were included before the earmark ban went into effect 11 years ago ‘in part because a number of members, including a lot of Republicans, have said they’re not taking them,'” The Hill added.

Retiring U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking member on the Appropriations Committee, reportedly obtained about $550 million for home-state projects, however.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and California GOP colleagues Darrell Issa and Tom McClintock reportedly did not request any earmarks, however. Nor did U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “Only one House [California] Democrat, Rep. Katie Porter…did not seek to include earmarks in the bill, saying they invite corruption and wasteful backroom deals,” the Times noted.

“Congressional leaders like earmarks because a lawmaker who has a project tucked into a larger bill is more likely to vote yes. Such spending be a potent form of political grease in the complex legislative process,” the news outlet observed.

Last week, after getting approved by the U.S. House, the omnibus bill passed the Senate by a vote of 68 to 31, with all 31 no votes coming from the GOP. McConnell voted yes.

Several high-profile Republicans blasted the inclusion of earmarks, many of which fund far-left initiatives, in the massive legislation.


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