WASHINGTON – A national watchdog organization this week spotlighted more than $1 billion of “pork-barrel spending” in the 1995 federal budget, including $42 million secured by Rep. Steny Hoyer and Sen. Barbara Mikulski for Maryland projects.
“These projects represent the most egregious examples of pork-barrel spending in the 1995 federal appropriations bills,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a 600,000-member nonprofit group that studies inefficiency in federal government.
He defined pork as government spending that skirts established budgetary procedures, or uses federal money for projects of strictly local interest.
Pork projects would include those not requested by the president and not subjected to congressional hearings.
Among the 13 Maryland projects highlighted as examples of pork spending were:
* $8.2 million for an air anti-submarine center that would be used for classified testing of anti-submarine warfare systems;
* $6.4 million for reprocessing of spent acids resulting from explosives production at Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center in Charles County;
* $5 million to bring power plants at the Indian Head facility into compliance with the Clean Air Act;
* $2.9 million to create a technical training center at Villa Julie College in Stevenson and to renovate the Knott Science Center at the College of Notre Dame at Baltimore.
Jesse Jacobs, press secretary for Hoyer, defended the funds for the Indian Head facility. “It was necessary to enhance the government’s military readiness,” he said.
In an earlier statement, Hoyer described the funds for Indian Head as an effort to make the facility “not only state of the art, but environmentally safe for the future.”
Rachel Kunzler, Mikulski’s press secretary, said the senator stands by the college science center and economic development funding she helped steer through the Appropriations Committee, of which she is a member.
“Those are all investments, things that get people ready for jobs or create jobs,” Kunzler said.
Kunzler added that the report incorrectly attributes three funding items to Mikulski that didn’t originate in the Senate.
Those items are: $1 million for expansion of St. Mary’s Community College, $450,000 for construction of the Center of Political Participation at the University of Maryland at College Park and $350,000 for the city of Kensington to finish converting the town armory into a community center.
Other projects criticized by the nonprofit organization include $110 million for highway construction in West Virginia, the home state of Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and $15 million for a footbridge to Ellis Island, the home of the Statue of Liberty.
The Ellis Island project was introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.
Schatz said the line-item veto and the balanced budget amendment, two measures in the Republican “Contract With America,” would help reduce wasteful spending.
The line-item veto would allow the president to strike individual items from the federal budget, instead of having to veto the entire bill to express disapproval.
A balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution would prevent Congress, in any given year, from spending more money than it takes in. -30-