NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Senate Appropriators Thrive on Pork

January 24, 2003

Congress needs to squeeze $10 billion from a $390 billion spending bill in order to meet President Bush's spending limits. But that goal is apparently not shared by members of the Senate Appropriation Committee, who have been busy adding a wide variety of spending projects to benefit their home states.

Here are a few:

  • Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) added $1 million to the bill for North Dakota State University's Advanced Traffic Analysis Center to study a problem few have been aware of: North Dakota traffic jams.
  • Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) wants $15 million to drain water from cotton croplands, a project which will eventually consume $181 million -- even though it will destroy 200,000 acres of wetlands in order to grow more federally-subsidized cotton, a crop whose prices are already falling because of overproduction.
  • Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) is snagging $35 million for his home state, including a people mover for Anchorage, funds for the Alaskan Sea Otter Commission, a study of seafood waste at the University of Alaska and an aquarium for Ketchikan.
  • Then there is $1 million for a Noxious Weed Management program at Montana State University; and a similar amount for a sampling of the DNA of Montana bears.

"Billions of dollars in pork means that there are many other programs that will be shortchanged," says Tom Schatz, head of Citizens Against Government Waste, a spending watchdog group.

Source: William M. Welch and Jim Drinkard, "'Pork' Thrives Amid Cotton Fields and Otters," USA Today, January 24, 2003.

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