Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released its 2017 Congressional Pig Book, the 25th edition of the group’s exposé on pork-barrel spending.
CAGW President Tom Schatz was joined at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. by Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chair Mark Walker (R-N.C.), former RSC Chair Bill Flores (R-Texas), and Reps. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.). Also in attendance was a live pot-bellied pig named Faye from Richmond, Virginia.
2017 Congressional Pig Book facts:
For the fifth time since Congress enacted an earmark “moratorium” in fiscal year (FY) 2011, CAGW has unearthed earmarks in appropriations bills.
The 2017 Congressional Pig Book exposes 163 earmarks in FY 2017 (32.5 percent increase from FY 2016) costing taxpayers $6.8 billion (33.3 percent increase from FY 2016).
Since 1991, Congress has approved 110,605 earmarks costing $329.9 billion.
Less transparency: Unfortunately, the earmark moratorium has not only failed to eliminate earmarks, but also has rendered the process patently less transparent. There are no names of legislators, no list or chart of earmarks, and limited information on where and how the money will be spent. Earmarks were scattered throughout the legislative and report language, requiring substantial detective work to unearth each project. While the lower number and cost of earmarks are an improvement relative to many prior years, transparency and accountability have regressed immeasurably.
$500 million for two additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircrafts for both the Navy and the Marine Corps. The acquisition misadventures of the JSF program have been well-documented. In development for nearly 16 years and six years behind schedule, the program is approximately $170 billion over budget and has encountered an abundance of persistent issues. An April 2015 Government Accountability Office report noted that the lifetime operation and maintenance costs of the most expensive weapon system in history will total approximately $1 trillion.
$9 million for the aquatic plant control program. Since 1994, there have been 23 earmarks worth a total of $47.1 million for aquatic plant control projects, including three by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and one each by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
$5.9 million for the East-West Center, an earmark championed by Senate Appropriations Committee member Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). Intended to promote better relations with Pacific and Asian nations, the center was established by Congress in 1960 with no congressional hearings and over the State Department’s opposition.
$5 million for Save America’s Treasures (SAT) grants, which in the past has supported the restoration and operation of theatres, museums, and opera houses. The earmark is the first for the program since FY 2010. Since FY 2006, there have been 265 SAT earmarks costing taxpayers $55.5 million.
CAGW President Tom Schatz said in a statement:
“The 2017 Congressional Pig Book reveals the sullied underbelly of the Washington swamp. Even worse, some members of Congress are trying to return the wasteful and corrupt system to prominence even after taxpayers delivered a ‘drain the swamp’ message to DC less than one year ago. The only way to clean up Washington is to do the opposite: adopt a permanent ban on pork-barrel earmarks.”
Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.