Pork Politics and DoD
Defense piggy bank gets White House and media scrutiny.
ne man’s defense project is another man’s pork. Bil- the other programs. In addition, it included money for ad-
lions of dollars worth of new ships, planes, helicop- ditional F-18 Hornet fighters and the Tanker Replacement
ters, and armored vehicles were included in the new Transfer Fund.
House Appropriations bill (H.R.3326) by members of Con-
gress, hardware that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had Earmarks in the News
said was unnecessary. Whereas the administration called attention to $2 billion,
Like a hungry pack of hyenas, members of the media The Washington Post reported that unwanted equipment in
jumped into the fray ready to devour conjectured earmarks the military spending bill had a price tag of at least $6.9 bil-
included in the $636 billion Defense Appropriations bill by lion in earmarks. This is just over 1 percent of the value of the
appropriators. Aroused by a threatened presidential veto, bill. The Senate debated its defense spending bill in Septem-
correspondents tore into the legislative language, sniffing out ber, cautioned by the attention that the House bill drew.
misapplied dollars. Publicized was an amendment by Rep. Jeff Flake (R–
In a Statement of Administrative Policy issued before the Ariz.) that would have stripped 549 earmarks worth $2.7
House started its floor debate on defense appropriations, billion from the defense appropriations bill, which failed
President Barack Obama, while supportive of defense legisla- to pass. Politico reported that Rep. Flake challenged ear-
tion, laid down an unambiguous veto threat over fiscally ir- marks by Reps. Murtha, Norm Dicks (D–Wash.), Bill Young
responsible provisions included in the bill. “The administra- (R–Fla.), Jeff Miller (R–Fla.), Jim Moran (D–Va.) and Alan
Mollohan (D–W.Va.), among others, valued at more than
tion urges the Congress to support the president’s initiatives
to terminate or reduce programs that fund narrowly focused
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (R–Fla.) was criticized
activities, duplicate existing programs, or that have outlived
for securing $4.5 million for a General Dynamics high-
their usefulness,” said the statement.
tech military radio system. She defended the request since
The White House threatened to veto the defense spend-