Sunday, June 24, 2007


Debbie from Right Truth (major Hat Tip) forwarded to me an e-mail from Club for Growth which included a lot of great info including the link to the Committee Report to accompany HR 2643 detailing all the earmarks included in 110th Congress DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, ENVIRONMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATION BILL, 2008.

While the 14 pages of earmarks was certainly edifying, what I found most interesting was the text on the last page of the report by Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA) where he basically said “Well the President does it too." It seems that all the efforts of Republican Congressmen, “Leaders in the Fight” and outraged citizens have left Congressman Dicks feeling a bit defensive. Taxpayers for Common Sense in their analysis of the report would seem to have discovered why.

”As is invariably the case, the spoils went to the majority party, and especially to members of the Interior appropriations subcommittee. Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA) was the biggest winner with $5.85 million in projects, including $150,000 for the Bremerton Public Library.” Full analysis of the report by TCS is available here.

I have included the full text of the report below. My editorial comments are included in italics.

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Executive and Legislative Branch Projects (Earmarks).

Compliance with Rules of the House. -- The list of projects provided above is
submitted in compliance with clause 9 of Rule XXI of the Rules of the House
Representatives, which requires publication of a complete list of projects included in the bill which result principally from requests of Members of the House Of Representatives. (As opposed to coming from say, the Departments of Interior and Environment where they should.) In addition the list includes projects of a similar character which are funded in the bill and which have been requested in the President's Budget for fiscal year 2008. (Of course first, there is no requirement in House rules, for Executive Branch funding requests to be included in the report and second, as noted the requests were included in the President’s Budget for F/Y 2008 which is published and available for inspection long before the appropriations process begins.)
Projects.- The Committee notes that the Congress has made significant reforms
in the way it reviews funding for the Federal government reforms which the
Committee takes very seriously as it executes its constitutional authority: Earmarking or Directed spending of Federal dollars does not begin with Congress. It begins with the Executive Branch. Despite what a Democratic Controlled Congress committee report says, no, Administative Directed Spending is NOT the same. The Federal Agencies involved are all within the Executive Branch and their job is to direct specific funding. For example, the list included above lists 92 specific land acquisition or construction projects which have been submitted by the Administration. The Administration, in selecting these projects, goes through a process that is the functional equivalent of earmarking. When the Committee reviews the budget request, it goes through a process of rigorous review and may alter or modify this list to reflect additional priorities. (Note that it says additional priorities but no mention of striking items that are not priorities.)

Contractors. -- The Executive Branch also engages in another practice which
steers or directs money to specific entities or purposes through a process of contracting out various activities and services. In many important work locations, the number of people working for contractors exceeds the number of Federal employees in the same building or location. Many of these, in fact, are non-competitive or sole-sourced. When added together, the Executive Branch steers or directs far greater spending to specific projects or corporations than is directed or earmarked by Congress. (Of course, directing spending is actually the job of Federal Agencies not Congress.) And the practice of non-competitive contracting has exploded in the past five years. For example, the Department of the Interior reported to the Committee that the value of Contracts awarded through processes that were "not fully and openly competitive" increased from $26 million in 2000 to $167 million 2005.