Wednesday: A Day in which Many Billions in Spending are Approved by the House


For anti-spending hawks, today must have been a difficult day. H.R. 1105 (the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009), with an attendant $410 billion in appropriations, cleared the House (245-178) and is on its way to the Senate.

The number seems staggering, but it is important to remember that H.R. 1105 is an omnibus spending bill. An omnibus bill is group of bills (in this case nine) all rolled up into one easy-to-vote on form. This particular omnibus bill exists because Democratic leaders decided to wait out a veto President Bush had threatened.

H.R. 1105 comes five months into the fiscal year, but now the Democrats are wasting no time. Debate was limited to one hour and amendments were forbidden.

You can get a good summary of what's in the bill from your favorite MSM source. If for some reason you don't have one, check out the links on the right — we promise they're all quite good.

But in lieu of looking of at overall funding levels, we here at ICT are going to poke around the parts of the bill no one else wants to take the time reading (not that we blame them — all-in-all, this bill and its supplements weigh in around 7000 pages!). 

So throughout this week, we are bringing you a list of our favorite earmarks. From brazen pork to bizarre provisions, the earmarks listed below are the most interesting ones we could find.

Check them out after the jump

Today's favorite earmarks come from the first section of the bill, which focuses on agriculture.

1. The first comes from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). It's a $200,000 earmark to "support research to develop new beneficial, non-smoking uses for tobacco." Does chewing it count as beneficial? This may be an interesting line of research to help tobacco farmers, but in a period of budget suspender-tightening, it seems questionable. The money goes to the University of Maryland.

2. The second belongs to Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.). He is requesting $131,000 "for a program to enable farmers to use high performance computational tools to make sound crop management decisions." Again, it might be useful, but we're not farmers. However, it's important to note that the funding goes to Cornell University, which resides in Hinchey's district.

3. Number three goes to Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.). She wants $422,000 for the "analysis of defense-related candidate genes in grapes, exploration of health-promoting compounds in native grape species and characterization of emerging severe viral diseases of the grapevine." Unsurprisingly the money goes to Missouri State University. To channel Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for a moment, is this earmark a criminal issue or paternity question?

4. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) wins the "most unfortunate project name of the day" award for this earmark. She asked for $839,000 for a project called "Monitoring Agricultural Sewage Sludge Application." Her earmark request letter says that the recipient of the funds, the University of Toledo, will be performing "an investigation into the human health impacts of sewage sludge application on agricultural fields." Eeew. A quick Google search reveals that there may indeed be many benefits of putting (treated) sewer sludge on crops, but we still wouldn't want to be a participant in that study.

5. We saved the best for last. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) earns a "proofread, please" award for her request of $416,000 for the "Babcock Institute for International Diary Research." That group doesn't exist. There is, however, a Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research. 

The error is particularly egregious, though, because she makes it three times in one paragraph. Check out her earmark request letter below:

 Tammy Baldwin

Are these earmarks ridiculous pork, or are they good projects? Tell us what you think.

4 thoughts on “Wednesday: A Day in which Many Billions in Spending are Approved by the House

  1. Do you know when the Senate will vote on this? They need to pass it before next Fri right? What happens if they can’t get 60 votes? Why aren’t more people talking about this?

  2. Great job on the Blog. Very nice.
    I’ll e-mail my elected officials (regarding this Bill specifically), but I wish there was more I could do to stop the insanity.
    Even if there are good projects in there, I object to the process. The way that projects are slipped in to the Bill under the radar. No debate on the merits. No visibility. I really think the process should be changed to prevent this from happening. Wouldn’t that eliminate a humongous amount of wasteful government spending? Seems like it would save the American taxpayers a whole lotta money.
    It’s really sad that the system works the way it does (earmarks). Is there reform in the works?
    Beyond the process issue, I feel that the President made a campaign promise against earmarks and he should step-up and intervene.
    Of course, that would be kinda difficult for him as more than a few Obama Administration Insiders have earmarks in this bill. Biden, Salazar, Clinton, LaHood, Solis, and Emanuel all have their names attached to at least one earmark. Ouch.
    Today on CSPAN, Robert Gibbs gave the lamest performance I have ever seen. Told the American people (with a straight face) that the President just wants to look forward in regards to earmarks. I’m not kidding. He really said that. Doesn’t matter that President Obama is breaking a highly visible campaign promise in the first 60 days. Gotta look forward boys and girls. That’s old business in that Bill. I honestly feel bad for him.
    Lets hope for a miracle in the Senate.

  3. You can hold Congress accountable, but you might want to wait until Obama signs this bill before you criticize him for “breaking a highly visible campaign promise,” Mike77.
    As for “lamest” performance, please wander over to YouTube and look at at some of Dana Perino’s dealings with the press, especially when she was excusing and/or denying torture or answering questions about Scooter Libby. IMHO, she still holds the superlative for “lame.”

  4. Hey Alex,
    Sorry bout that… I may have gotten a bit carried away :)
    Also, I admit, I have not seen any of Dana Perino’s interaction with the press, but I will check out some clips. I appreciate the heads-up.
    I’ve been watching a lot of CSPAN lately, and catch Robert Gibbs often. As I watch him, I get the feeling that he really doesn’t have solid answers and that he is just improvising or winging it. Just seems (to me) like he isn’t very well prepared and doesn’t really answer the questions adequately. But, again, I kinda whipped myself in to a frenzy over the earmark issue, so “lame” wasn’t the right word to use.

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