Congressional ‘pig book’ released and look whose noses are in the trough

Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonprofit, has published its annual “Congressional Pig Book,” and it’s a doozy.

Published annually since 1991, the “Congressional Big Book” contains a compilation of all the wasteful “pork-barrel” projects in the federal budget pursued by both Democrats and Republicans.

Covering last year’s budget, this year’s book reportedly contains 8,222 earmarks costing a whopping $22.7 billion.

Of the legislators who pursued earmarks, Rep. Susan Collins, a Republican, pursued the most.

“Her 231 earmarks cost $575,580,000, which is $109,429,721, or 23.5 percent more than the legislator in second place, Senate Appropriations Committee member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who received 185 earmarks costing $466,370,279,” the book reads.

Most of the earmarks were directed toward the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Since FY 1996, members of Congress have added 7,566 earmarks for the Corps, costing taxpayers $20.9 billion,” the book notes. “The earmarks in the FY 2024 bill and all other Energy and Water appropriations bills with earmarks since 2014 contravene the provisions of the Water Resources Development Act of 2014, which excluded earmarks for any water projects, including the Army Corps of Engineers.”

Meanwhile, $17.5 million was earmarked for improvements to the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas.

Who’s to blame for all this wasted money? It’s really both parties, though Republicans at least tried to make a difference by banning earmarks in 2010. But then 11 years later, Democrats reversed the ban.

A year later, Republicans “voted to keep earmarks for spending bills in December 2022, which was a defeat for Republicans looking to rein in spending on ‘pork,'” according to the Washington Examiner.

Things got even worse once Hakeem Jeffries took over as House Democrat leader.

“In exchange for votes to prevent a government shutdown, Jeffries pushed Republican leaders to agree to increase the amount of money for earmarks allotted to Democrats in the transportation, housing, and urban development appropriations bill,” the Examiner notes.

“Nearly all Democrats received an earmark in that bill, and, according to a CNN analysis, most of them were inflated by $616,279 above the amount provided in the committee-passed version of the legislation,” according to the conservative paper.

There is a little good news. The National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) only received $39 million through 52 earmarks, down from the $59.7 million it received in 2023.

That being said…

“The FY 2024 earmarks include $500,000 for the Vergennes Opera House in Vermont by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.),” according to the book.

“The opera house’s website contains a laundry list of needs ranging from a new heating boiler to new seating and estimates the total cost would be $178,000. Thanks to Sen. Sanders’ earmark, the Vergennes Opera House can address everything and pocket the extra $322,000,” it continues.

THAT is definitely a problem.

Dovetailing back to museums and libraries again, a whopping $3.86 million was earmarked for nine projects involving museums, including $570,000 for the Mystic Seaport Museum.

“The museum had an endowment of $57.7 million at the conclusion of 2022 and received 248,345 visitors that year, meaning each guest could have paid an extra $3.30 to avoid federal taxpayers being on the hook for these earmarks,” the book notes. “The Mystic Seaport Museum has received 10 earmarks totaling $3 million since FY 2000.”

The biggest piece of good news is that, while more earmarks were filed in 2024 versus 2023 (8,222 vs 7,396), they ultimately cost less this year than last ($22.7 billion vs $26.1 billion).

Still, too much is too much, and the public is sick of it.

Look:

Vivek Saxena

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