Pork barrel spending cost taxpayers $6.8B in fiscal 2017, Pig Book finds

2017 Congressional Pig Book is released

FBN's Stuart Varney and Gerri Willis weigh in on what they view as the government's most wasteful spending programs.

Pork barrel spending in Congress on special projects cost taxpayers $6.8 billion in fiscal 2017, according to the latest edition of Citizens Against Government Waste’s “Pig Book” unveiled Wednesday.

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This year’s “Pig Book” identifies 163 “earmarks,” or additions to appropriations bills to fund local projects in a legislator’s home territory. That total marks a 32.5% increase from fiscal 2016. The $6.8 billion price tag attached to the pet projects jumped 33.3% compared to the same period.

“The 2017 Congressional Pig Book reveals the sullied underbelly of the Washington swamp,” CAGW President Tom Schatz said in a statement. “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.”

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CAGW notes that pork-barrel spending increased despite Congress’ decision in 2011 to enact a “moratorium” on earmarks in appropriations bills. The organization has published a “Pig Book” detailing excess government spending since 1991. Over that span, total approved spending on earmarks has surpassed $329 billion.

The Pig Book identifies several specific instances of earmark spending in 2017, including $9 million on an aquatic plant control program and $5.9 million toward an “East-West Center” in Hawaii to promote improved relations between Pacific and Asian nations.

Several sitting congressmen, including Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), were set to attend the unveiling of the “Pig Book” in Washington D.C.

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