This week, the Senate will be debating—and will likely vote on—a package of spending bills that covers the departments of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development.
While some of the funding is necessary, far too much is devoted to bureaucracies and programs that directly benefit, or have been captured by, the Left.
In addition to excessive amounts of spending overall, the Senate’s appropriations package is packed with pork. Congress brought back earmarks in 2022 and legislators from both parties are taking advantage, ignoring the inflationary damage caused by rampant overspending and trillion-dollar deficits.
These are just seven of the hundreds of earmarks the Senate is poised to rubber-stamp in just one spending package.
$1M for Race-Obsessed Green Group
Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both D-N.Y., want to dish out $1 million to the WE ACT for Environmental Justice organization. Not content with pushing the “climate change” message, WE ACT uses the concept of intersectionality to tie in race-based grievances.
It’s one thing for a heavily politicized ideological group to receive tax-free status. It’s quite another for such a group to receive a handout from taxpayers who want no part of their agenda.
$3.5M for Parade Balloons in Michigan
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., thinks that handing $3.5 million to the Parade Co. for a new headquarters is a good use of public funds.
The organization, which focuses on producing the annual Thanksgiving parade in Detroit, claims that it “receives no local, state or federal appropriations,” meaning its revenue is entirely voluntary. That will no longer be the case if the earmark passes.
Apparently, Stabenow thinks that federal spending should inflate both prices and parade balloons.
$500,000 for NAACP’s Baltimore HQ
The audacity of seeking a $500,000 handout for a de facto arm of the Democratic Party ought to be a scandal, but sadly is par for the course in today’s swamp.
$4M Sewer for ‘City’ of 98 People
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is sponsoring an earmark to give $4 million to the tiny city of Pelican, Alaska, which is home to just 98 people. That amounts to a cost of $40,816 per person.
Earmarks were banned by Congress in the wake of national outrage over the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska, which would have spent an enormous amount to benefit a very small number of people.
It appears that Alaska’s representatives, and Congress, believe there are no longer consequences for such clearly wasteful spending.
$1M for Well-Heeled LGBT Group
Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman, both D-Pa., back a $1 million gift to the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia. While the House Appropriations Committee rejected this earmark, the Senate is moving forward.
Even setting aside the ideological debate surrounding sexuality and gender issues, the William Way Center doesn’t need federal welfare. Its 2023 corporate sponsors include Merck, NovaCare, and Urban Outfitters, while the group’s Trans Resource Center touts funding from Macy’s and TD Charitable Foundation.
Tiny Maine Airport Gets 2nd-Biggest Haul
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, are poised to secure $20.5 million for the minuscule Presque Isle International Airport. What makes this earmark stand out from dozens of others for airport infrastructure is that it’s the second-largest, dwarfing the amount given to major hubs.
This special treatment is aided by the fact that Collins is the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
‘Olympic’ Recreation in Rural NH
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is pushing a $2.5 million recreational project in the small city of Franklin. This would create “in-river features suitable for Olympic-style competition” for sports such as kayaking and slalom.
With the national debt now racing toward $33 trillion, it’s wildly inappropriate for politicians to throw millions of dollars at local recreational projects.
In recent years, every earmark approved by the Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate has been signed into law. However, there are two opportunities for legislators to stop these insults to American taxpayers.
First, senators can offer amendments to strip the earmarks. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that such votes will even be allowed on the floor, let alone receive majority support.
Second, the House can fight against the Senate’s earmarks when it comes time to produce the final bicameral spending bills. That would be a welcome change from the recent tradition of turning a blind eye to the upper chamber’s nonsense.
While stopping one or all these absurd boondoggles would not make much of a dent in the national debt, it would mark a rare victory for common sense and fiscal sanity.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal