Pork is back at the Congress table, and it’s being served red thanks to 23 Republican freshmen.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–CA) has just approved $368.6 Million in earmarks proposed by 23 Republican freshman members. These earmarks were graciously included in the Democratic infrastructure bill, which passed out of committee.
Republicans attacked Pelosi’s proposition of them with earmarks last March. This is the practice of including member pet projects in legislation to win votes. Many of these critics echo the sentiments of the late U.S. Senator Tom Coburn called earmarks the “currency of corruption in Congress”, and many others joined him.
However, within weeks, the House Republicans held a secret vote, and 102 of them endorsed Pelosi’s “member-directed expenditure” (the new euphemism to earmarks). Since 2011, earmarks have been banned in Congress. They were toxic and led to wasteful projects such as the “bridge to nowhere”.
Pelosi took less than four months to convert 23 new Republican members elected from outsiders into Washington insiders.
These young men were pivotal in influencing the Republican caucus to favour earmarks, and their support cemented Pelosi’s power as Speaker.
Jake LaTurner (KS-2), former Kansas State Treasurer, is a proud congressional representative. He boasts of his commitment to “…and bringing fiscal responsibility Washington to Washington.” However, LaTurner requested 11 earmarks from Pelosi’s legislation. This cost taxpayers $19.6million and included a $3,000,000 earmark to replace Topeka’s city buses.
OpenTheBooks.com auditors matched each one of the 1,476 transportation/infrastructure earmarks to the member proposing them. (All earmarks must also be disclosed on the websites of sponsoring members.
Here is the list of 23 Republican freshmen who suggested earmarks. Separately, here are the amounts that Pelosi “approved”.
1. Jay Obernolte, CA-8) $17 Million, $7 Million for the First Avenue Bridge Replacement over Mojave River.
2. Young Kim (CA39) $18 Million, all in support of the California State Route 56/60 traffic relief program
3. Scott Franklin (FL-15), $20 million to reconstruct State Road 33/Interstate 4 Interchange. (Exit 38). Rep. Franklin was our only freshman member who responded to our request for comment.
4. Carlos Gimenez (FL 26) $4.2 Million, all for Card Sound bridge replacement planning design project
5. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-2 $14 million, including nearly $10 million for a local project on Dodge Street in Iowa City
6. Jake LaTurner (KS-2 $19.6 Million, including $3,000,000 for the Topeka Metropolitan Bus Replacement Project.
7. Peter Meijer (MI-3 $16.3 Million, $7.3 Million for the Wealthy Street Fuller Ave. east city limits
8. Lisa McClain (MI-10) $19.7 Million, $11 Million for the Mound Road Industrial Corridor Technology and Innovation Project
9. Andrew Garbarino (NY-2 $2 million, $1 million each for improvements to local roads in Farmingdale or Massapequa
10. Nicole Malliotakis, NY-11 $2.5 Million, all to ensure safe routes to transit 86th Street
11. Madison Cawthorn (NC-11), $11.1 million, $8 million to replace bridge number. 628 over Lake Lure Dam and Broad River
12. Stephanie Bice (OK-5) $20 million, $10 million each for bridges at Interstate 35 Interchanges between Memorial Street and 2nd Street and I35/I240 Interchanges
13. Nancy Mace (SC-1 $20 million, all I-26/526 interchange. Mace requested $1 Billion. Unfortunately, Mace’s request to $35 million to expand the Hilton Head airport at wealthy Hilton Head was not included in Pelosi’s bill.
14. Diana Harshbarger, TN-1) $20 Million, divided between improvements to State Routes SR-126 and SR-36. SR-34 is SR-35.
15. August Pfluger (TX-11), $9 million, which includes $6.5 million to the intersection at State Highway 191/Yukon Road
16. Troy Nehls, TX-22) $20 Million All for Texas State Highway 36 Expansion
17. Anthony Gonzales (TX-23) $20 Million, $5.6 Million for the Arlington Road corridor
18. Blake Moore (UT-1 $20 million), including $6.5 Million for bus rapid transit between Kimball Junction and Park City (State Route 224). 18.
19. Maria Salazar (FL 27) $19.5 Million, $8.8 Million for local Marlin Road road improvements project
20. Burgess Owens (UT-4 $18.3 Million, with $5.5 Million for the Midvalley connector
21. David Valadao, CA-21 $20 million all for State Route 41 Excelsior Corridor Project
22. Pete Sessions (TX-17), $17.4 Million, which includes $8.4 Million for a Speegleville Road Bridge at Middle Bosque River
23. Darrell Issa (CA-50), $20 million. All for Interstate 15 (I-15),/State Route 78(SR-78), managed lanes project.
Of course, freshmen Republicans aren’t the only ones at fault. Republican leaders granted Pelosi’s earmark powers. She’s now rewarding them.
Our auditors discovered $20 million in earmarks within the infrastructure bill for each leader of the Republican caucus:
Rep. Elise Stefanik, NY-21, is the Chair of the House Republican Conference.
Rep. Don Young (AK–at Large), dean of the House
Rep. Tom Cole (OK-4), ranking member of the House Rules Committee, the deputy minority whip, and former Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Sam Graves (ranking Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee) requested five earmarks of $30.2 million. Pelosi included all five earmarks worth $19.6 million, including $9.4 Million for safe streets and sidewalks in Excelsior, MO, into the legislation.
Among the many Republicans whose earmarks, Pelosi approved and appeared on the infrastructure bill is Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13), who is the ranking member in the House Administration Committee ($23.5million); and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, WA-5, the ranking member in the House Energy and Commerce Committee and former chair and vice-chair of the House Republican Conference ($20million).
116 Republicans authored the Pelosi infrastructure bill. Even fiscal conservatives could not resist the temptation to earmark.
For example, Thomas Massie (KY-4) requested $60 million in earmarks and even argued that it was constitutional. Massie was awarded $19.3million in Pelosi’s infrastructure bill, mainly for his district’s state highways. According to Massie’s spokesperson, Massie now plans to vote against the bill on the floor.
Stephen Moore, economist and co-founder of The Committee To Unleash Prosperity said that the bipartisan infrastructure bill is “a white-flagged surrender.”
Republicans are fiscal conservatives who seek to reduce federal spending.
If the GOP’s latest freshman class is any indication, it is more a pork producer than a budget cutter, however.