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June 9, 2006
Pork On A Diet

The conference committee on the emergency appropriations bill has reached agreement on the measure which had an original spending gap of $16 billion. The resulting bill will reach the White House at $94.5 billion, $2.5 billion more than the House-approved plan but much lighter than the heavily-porked version the Senate tried mightily to get:

House and Senate negotiators reached agreement last night on a $94.5 billion package to pay for Iraq war and hurricane recovery costs, after shaving numerous extraneous provisions that the Senate had wanted to stuff into the bill.

The bill, which is expected to reach President Bush's desk next week, would designate $65.8 billion to the Pentagon to cover troop pay, provide recruiting incentives, buy new body armor and fund continued operations of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other items. Diplomacy projects in the region would receive $3.9 billion in new funding.

The bill would also provide $19.8 billion in hurricane relief, exactly what President Bush had requested, but nearly $9 billion less than the Senate had sought. The package squeezed in a few other priority items, including $500 million in agricultural aid -- cut from nearly $4 billion in the Senate version -- along with the $1.2 billion in border security funding and $2.3 billion in avian flu prevention that Bush had additionally requested.

The Washington Post goes on to report what didn't get included in the final version. The first item to make an overdue exit, Trent Lott's Moveable Railroad, got left out and saved taxpayers $700 million. The committee didn't appear very sympathetic to funding a new railroad right next to the existing line the government just spent $250 million repairing. Also gone from Mississippi porkfests was the obnoxious Northrup bailout, contributing $200 million in savings. In the end, the committee trimmed $13.5 billion from the Senate's bloated budget-buster, or roughly $45 for every man, woman, and child this year.

Take the family out for a nice meal, and leave a tip. Have the pork roast; I'm sure it will be delicious.

This shows that we can have an effect on earmarks and the politicians addicted to them, as long as we remain vigilant. Organization and tenacity will leave a mark on those who defy voters for long enough. Lott has become the poster child for arrogance on Capitol Hill during this debate, not because he is a bad man -- he isn't at all -- but because he treated us as though taxation and appropriations were none of our business. That kind of politics went out when the first website went up, and more and more our representatives have begun to understand this. The only way to get through to them enough to start seeing real reforms in the earmark processes, and then entitlements, is to keep our efforts going.

We made a difference this time, a difference of $13.5 billion. A few more of these, and we'll be talking about real money.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Wow -- I got a 'heh' and an 'indeed' for one post. I'm honored!

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 9, 2006 6:25 AM

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» Pork, It's Not What's For Dinner from BeltwayBlitz

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