Goodies In Omnibus Spending Bill

October 7, 1996

Goodies In Omnibus Spending Bill

As might be expected, members of Congress made sure some of their own parochial and personal interests were taken care of in the 1997 omnibus spending bill. Among the bigger ticket items was language that could make it easier for closed shipyards to qualify for multi-million-dollar federal loans to help them modernize and re-open. The measure is expected to help rejuvenate the Quincy (Mass.) Shipyard and Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. Senators Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and John Kerry, D-Mass., and Kerry's challenger, Massachusetts GOP Gov. William Weld, all have claimed credit for the provision. Conferees also added $166 million to buy three WC-130 aircraft equipped as hurricane hunters. They are built by Lockheed Martin Corp. in House Speaker Gingrich's district, and based at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, home state of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott.

Among smaller projects were $3 million to begin building the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park and $3.3 million for the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, both longtime interests of retiring Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member J. Bennett Johnston, D-La. There is $43.8 million for a courthouse annex in Columbia, S.C., where Senate Armed Services Chairman Thurmond seeks re-election, and $24 million for a new courthouse in Corpus Christi, Texas, where GOP Senator Phil Gramm is on the ballot. Additional money for drug-fighting efforts was authorized for nine states, seven of which have either open Senate seats or GOP incumbents seeking re-election. "Certainly, there's a lot of lard," Citizens Against Government Waste spokesman Sean Paige told the Associated Press. "In an election year, people are tending to succumb to the prerogatives of office." Lott conceded to reporters: "Yeah, there's a little pork here and there. But, of course, you know pork is in the eye of the beholder."

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