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Guarding the Purse Strings

March 7, 2007 Want a bridge to somewhere? How about a library or a community center? Well, the newly remodeled Earmark Store is open for business. The major renovation? Larger windows so folks on the outside can watch members of Congress do their shopping. Anyone who thought that the absence of earmarks in...

Reliance on supplemental funding draws bipartisan attack

April 21, 2006 Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., doesn't like the way the Bush administration is paying for the Iraq war. Neither does Rep. David Obey, D-Wis. Granted, the two don't agree on much. But they do agree that funding the war piecemeal and off the books -- through "emergency" supplemental spending bills --...

Legislator takes stand in support of earmarks

March 24, 2006 Just when critics had everyone convinced that earmarked projects are evil, along comes Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho. Simpson is on a one-man crusade to clean up the image of pork-barrel projects. His goal is to convince folks who want to put the kibosh on earmarks that the projects are good...

Spending proposals leave moderates in tough position

March 20, 2006 In January, a group of social services providers descended on Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn., in his Norwich office. Their goal: to persuade him to vote against a $39 billion budget-cutting bill that they believed slashed programs crucial to students, low-income families, and children. "We told him what our concerns were,...

Growth in earmarks limits agencies’ flexibility

February 24, 2006 In the war against congressional earmarks, Pete Luisa is a conscientious objector. As the head of the Army Corps of Engineers' civil-works program development office, Luisa doesn't understand all the fuss about "pork-barrel" projects. In fact, he likes them. "For our situation, I can't say that [earmarks] took away from...

Army Corps officials too often acquiesced to Congress' wishes, critics claim

September 9, 2005 The Army Corps of Engineers fought alongside George Washington, dug the fortifications around New Orleans for Andrew Jackson, and once ran the military academy at West Point. But not since 1824, when Congress appropriated $75,000 for the Corps to remove snags and sandbars from the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, has...

Appropriations process mired in same troubles as previous years

July 5, 2005 Most years, the appropriations process would be in dire trouble by now. Congress would be way behind in the drive to enact the annual spending bills by the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1. And conservatives would be grumbling that appropriators were rigging the system to spend...

Bush's best-laid budget plans go awry

June 18, 2004 Judged simply by the numbers, President Bush's record on controlling government spending has been lousy. Bush promised to maintain a balanced budget and pay down the federal debt, but he has failed to do either. During his term, the nation has gone from enjoying a $236 billion surplus to confronting...

Following the money on Iraq, homeland security not easy

May 6, 2004 If there's one thing that Congress takes seriously, it's the power of the purse. But over the past few weeks, it's become more and more clear that the House and Senate are having trouble monitoring funding when it comes to homeland security and the war effort in Iraq. First, there's...

Gulf between authorizations and appropriations hurts programs

January 13, 2004 Congress promised the neediest college students that they would each receive $5,800 in Pell Grants to help pay their education costs this year. But instead, Congress ponied up only $4,050 per student. How can Congress give with one hand and take away with the other? As with much of what...

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