Heck With Ethics: Murtha Nabs $150 Million in Earmarks
Less than 24 hours after the Senate passed a supposedly sweeping ethics bill designed to end corruption in Washington, some astounding earmark and pork totals for leading Congressmen were reported by The Hill (emphasis added throughout):
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House Appropriations defense panel, has secured the most earmarked dollars in the 2008 military spending bill, followed closely by the panel's ranking member Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.).Even though Young secured 52 earmarks, worth $117.2 million - and co-sponsored at least $27 million worth of others - Murtha's 48 earmarks amount to a total of $150.5 million, according to a database compiled by the watchdog organization Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS).
Please bear in mind that nothing in the just-passed bill sitting on the President's desk would in any way prevent those earmarks, or these:
Murtha, the defense industry's darling, has been known throughout his tenure on the defense panel to shell out a large number of earmarks. His biggest earmark in the bill is $23 million for the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), a move that sparked a fierce fight with Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), who earlier this year voted in a private meeting to strip Murtha's earmark.
The Bush administration requested $16 million to shut down the center, which is in Murtha's district, because it replicated the work of a similar center.
Murtha's second highest earmark is for $15 million for a military molecular medicine initiative.
Young has several requests valued at $5 million for projects such as ballistic missile range safety technology, the Common Aero Vehicle (another missile program) and rapid-response counter-measures to chemical and biological weapons.
The embattled former Appropriations Committee chairman, Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), also claims a big haul of earmark dollars, totaling $95 million. He made some requests with Reps. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) and Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), including $2 million for an integrated propulsion analysis tool, which would benefit Advatech Pacific, a company represented in Washington by Innovative Federal Strategies.
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), one of the most senior defense appropriators, was able to secure $44 million in earmarks, including $1 million for medical technology to look into rare blood diseases. He made that request with Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.). The two also requested $5 million for a littoral sensor grid.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) got her share of pork projects - 11 projects valued at $37.3 million.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's (D-Md.) haul is $26 million.
As one can see, earmarking is quite bipartisan. And, as The Hill noted, these totals are down by about 50 percent from last year's defense bill.
However, this is a national disgrace coming less than 24 hours after the passing of a so-called ethics bill, and an honest, impartial media would be pounding the table about this issue.
Will they? Will this be a focus of discussion during today's newscasts, or in tomorrow's papers?
Assume for a second that less than 24 hours after a Republican-controlled Congress passed an ethics bill such earmarks and pork had been revealed. Think that would get media's attention?
Yeah. I do, too.