Pork Barrel Spending: Congress’ Piggy Bank

| News | July 3, 2019

It is the bane of many a congressperson and often brought up around an election: pork barrel spending.

It’s the appropriation of government spending on localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative’s district. It typically benefits a few, but the costs get passed to everyone.

Some could argue that the St. Francis Dam Memorial, which Rep. Katie Hill secured as part of a public lands package, is an example of such spending – even though the financial amount is nominal compared to the infamous Alaskan “Bridge to Nowhere.”

“I take every opportunity to bring resources back to our district and accomplish our local priorities,” Hill said in a statement. “I was proud to ensure the St. Francis Dam Memorial was signed into law by the President…”

Hill has not been accused of pork spending, nor has the nonprofit Citizens Against Government Waste ever named her its “Porker of the Month,” a dishonor it bestows on an elected official it deems as having “blatant disregard for the interest of taxpayers.”


In its latest newsletter, CAGW indicated its following four pieces of legislation:

–House Joint Resolution 22, a Constitutional balanced-budget Amendment. It allows for one exception: Congress must authorize excess spending by a three-fifths roll call vote of each chamber.

–HR 1957, Taxpayer First Act. This passed the House on a voice vote. It improves safeguards for taxpayers when dealing with the IRS, upgrades management and customer service at the tax agency, and creates a pathway for modernizing the administration of tax laws.

–HR 109, the Green New Deal, a proposed stimulus package that aims to address climate change and economic inequality. Although it failed to advance in either the House or Senate, 29 Californian Democrats signed on, but Hill didn’t.

–HR 1384, Medicare for All. Hill signed on as a co-sponsor.

In a statement, Hill said, “When I sign onto a bill, the only thing I take into account is our community and country, and the way it will affect or benefit our safety, security, and prosperity long-term.”

Hill did not answer whether she was part of the HR 1957 voice vote or give her view on HJR 22.

Hill also responded to a separate question about last week’s Democratic debates.

Almost as soon as Kamala Harris declared her presidential aspirations in January, Hill endorsed her, telling MSNBC that Harris “has been an exceptional leader in the state of California, and I think she is exactly the kind of candidate we need to show the right kind of vision we should have for this country.”

Then came the presidential debates last week, and from many indications, Harris merged as one of the winners.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll found 29 percent of respondents rated Harris “excellent,” more than any other candidate. The Los Angeles Times declared Harris probably won the state’s primary with her performance. And USA Today noted an uptick in interest in Iowa, home of the first primary next year, the Iowa Caucases.

Hill indicated she couldn’t be more pleased.

“Kamala Harris showed the American people what I’ve known since I met her: She has the values, strength and vision this country needs in this moment,” Hill said in a statement. “Senator Harris was steady, laid out her plan and brought her personal experience to the conversation, all which I thought made her performance incredibly successful.”

Harris succeeded by calling out frontrunner Joe Biden for his almost nostalgic comments of getting along with segregationist Senators and for opposing federally mandated busing to integrate schools.

Hill also said she thought other candidates impressed, too, listing Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“I look forward to this conversation continuing into 2020,” Hill said.

Money Money Money

Hill’s campaign announced that she raised more than $720,000 in the recently completed quarter and more than $1.365 million this year. A statement from the Hill campaign said fewer than 10 Democrats nationally raised as much in the second quarter.

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About Lee Barnathan

Lee Barnathan has been a writer and editor since 1990. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and online. His new book "If You Experience Death, Please Call and Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language," a humorous look at the ways people misuse English, is available on Amazon or at his website, www.leebarnathan.com. He is hired by people all over the country to help them refine the message or story they wish to share with their target audience or demographic.

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