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.”
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.