November 6, 2007

The Pork Airlift Of 2007 Has Begun

Recall when Democrats insisted that they had cleaned up Congress with their ethics bills this session? The “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007”, the first bill considered by the upper chamber in the 110th Congress, specifically prohibited the practice of "airdropping" earmarks into legislation. An airdropped earmark is one that suddenly appears in the conference report between the two chambers when it appears in neither the House nor the Senate version prior to the conference.

The Pork Airlift has begun, as defiant as the brave airlift in postwar Berlin that kept the residents of the free city alive. This time, it just keeps the power of porkmeisters from declining. Sources on the Hill have a list of airdropped earmarks and their sponsors:

1. South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD for the Thomas Daschle Center for Public Service and Representative Democracy Sponsor: Byrd, Reid, Johnson, Harkin Amount: $1,000,000

2 National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, CO for facilities and equipment.
Sponsors: Sen. Salazar and Allard
Amount: $500,000

3. George Washington University, Washington, DC for health professions training for students from the District of Columbia.
Sponsors: Sen. Hatch, Rep. Eleanor Norton
Amount: $316,700

4. University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City, UT for the Health Sciences LEAP Program to expand the pipeline of underrepresented students in health professions.
Sponsor: Sen. Hatch
Amount: $84,750

5. Lowell Community Health Center, Lowell, MA for facilities and equipment.
Sponsor: Rep. Danny Davis (IL)
Amount: $400,000

6. Center for Working Families, Long Beach, CA, for job training and placement in demand industries.
Sponsor: Rep. Laura Richardson
Amount: $140,000

7. Compton Careerlink, Compton, CA, forjob training and placement in demand industries.
Sponsor: Rep. Laura Richardson
Amount: $200,000

8. Watts Labor Community Action Committee, Los Angeles, CA for job training and placement in demand industries.
Sponsor: Rep. Laura Richardson
Amount: $200,000

9. YWCA of Greater Los Angeles, CA for a project providing coordinated assistance to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Sponsor: Rep. Laura Richardson
Amount: $100,000

Laura Richardson represents California's 37th District, and she's gearing up to be a Hollywood version of John Murtha. Almost half of the airdrops involve her earmarks. Also, let's note the irony of the first earmark, which goes to fund a center named after a Senate Majority Leader who only held his seat for as long as he did for porking up bills for South Dakota. It's an almost perfect monument to pork; Charlie Rangel wins first place for his Monument to Me.

So which is it? Did the Democrats outlaw airdrops, or is it business as usual at the Capitol Hill pork pull?


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