CAGW Releases 2014 Congressional Pig Book
Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released its 2014 Congressional Pig Book, the 22nd edition of the group's exposé on pork-barrel spending. CAGW was joined at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Also in attendance were two live pot-bellied pigs, Churchill and Annabelle, courtesy of the Pig Placement Network in New Jersey, with their handler for the day, Susan Magidson.
The release of the 2014 Congressional Pig Book proved that there are both victories and setbacks in the fight to eliminate earmarks. The number of earmarks decreased by 28.3 percent, from 152 in FY 2012 to 109 in FY 2014, while the cost declined by 18.2 percent, from $3.3 billion in FY 2012 to $2.7 billion FY 2014, the lowest amount since 1992. There are no earmarks for museums, theaters or opera houses; wood utilization or shrimp aquaculture research; or brown tree snake research.
While the 2014 omnibus appropriations bill was declared earmark-free, the 2014 Pig Book includes projects that were identified as earmarks in prior years, raising the question of how they could have been earmarks then but not now. Of even greater consequence for taxpayers, members of Congress on both sides of the Capitol and from both sides of the aisle have been clamoring to restore earmarks and abandon the moratorium.
Many of the earmarks in 2014 involve larger amounts of money and include fewer details than in prior years. There was far less transparency and accountability than in prior years (since the omnibus bill was declared earmark-free); therefore, only a few individual members could be directly linked to earmark requests in FY 2014. For example, the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund received $15 million through the support of Senate Appropriations Committee member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the $5.9 million earmark for the East-West Center in Hawaii was declared a "victory" by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and the $150,000 for the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation was likely inserted by Senate Appropriations Committee member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), who earmarked $600,000 for the organization in FY 2008.