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Earmark Creep in the Stimulus Package

Earmark Creep in the Stimulus Bills

by Michael Grabell and Christopher Weaver, ProPublica - February 4, 2009 11:00 pm EST

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U.S. governmentSome items working their way into the economic stimulus package bear a suspicious likeness to "earmarks" -- the budgeting tactic that critics have scorned as wasteful and that President Obama said he wants to avoid. Earmarks typically target spending at a particular city or region, industry or contractor, often on the basis of political clout. As part of ShovelWatch, a joint project with WNYC in New York, we've started tracking items that could arguably be called earmarks in the chart below. If you have ideas about spending that could be added, e-mail your suggestions to us.

Here are links to the emerging Senate and House stimulus bills, which we will update regularly:

House bill Senate bill Project/Recipient Purpose Why it's like an earmark
$0 $198,000,000 Filipino World War II veterans Provides compensation for Filipino veterans who were enlisted to fight in World War II. The items were added to the Senate bill at the request of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), one of three World War II veterans in the Senate and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Estimate unavailable Estimate unavailable Insurance exemption for yacht workers Exempts businesses working on recreational boats longer than 65 feet from the requirement to hold federal longshoremen's insurance in addition to state worker's compensation insurance. Amendment from Rep. Deborah Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida Democrat, benefits boat and yacht builders.
$150,000,000 $150,000,000 Smithsonian Institution For repairs and renovations to the Smithsonian Institution's facilities in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian gets about $500 million a year in taxpayer support; usually less than 20 percent of that support goes to capital improvements. Mainly benefits Washington, D.C.
Estimate unavailable Estimate unavailable Department of Homeland Security Requires that the Department of Homeland Security purchases uniforms for 100,000 employees from U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers. Amendment from Rep. Larry Kissell, D-N.C., who worked for 27 years in the textile industry before being elected to Congress.
$3,000,000,000 $0 Transit bonus money Adds an extra $3 billion for transit projects, bringing total transit funding in the House bill to $12 billion. Source is an amendment by Reps. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. and Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., who said it would bring a "significant increase" in money to his state. Said a Nadler spokesman, "Our view is that New York State can't lose if we increase transportation funding."
$500,000,000 $0 Biofuels bonus money An amendment that boosts biofuel spending by $500 million, pushing total biomass spending in the House bill to at least $800 million. Source is an amendment by Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, home of more than 40 ethanol and biodiesel refineries.
$420,000,000 $870,000,000 Pandemic flu preparedness Develop cell-based vaccine manufacture within the U.S. to replace foreign-made, chicken egg-based vaccines in order to build up production capacity to combat potential pandemics, and to stockpile antiviral drugs. This is the final installment in a Health and Human Services program that was allocated up to $7.1 billion to implement this project. Benefits 5 companies with research contracts, and Novartis, which holds a contract to open and operate the first cell-based manufacturing facility in Holly Springs, N.C.
$500,000,000 $1,200,000,000 Transportation Security Administration To buy explosive-detection machines and advanced checkpoint screening technologies. Potential benefit for five companies that already hold TSA contracts: Rapiscan, GE, L-3, Reveal and Smiths Detection.
$0 $10,000,000 Project Gunrunner An ongoing operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to stop firearms and drug trafficking across the Mexican border would receive this amount from a $100 million pot for law enforcement on the border. The rest of the money will be awarded in competitive grants to other law enforcement agencies. Specially designated funding for a program run out of El Paso, Texas.
$0 $125,000,000 District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority Renovations to the Washington, D.C., sewer system to prevent sewage overflows from the Blue Plains treatment plant. Targeted to local interest.
$0 $1,000,000,000 Department of Energy Funding for atomic energy defense activities at the National Nuclear Security Administration. Specifies purpose: "Weapons activities."
$224,000,000 $224,000,000 International Boundary and Water Commission of Rio Grande "For repair and upgrading Rio Grande levees on the U.S. side. The levees no longer comply with Federal Emergency Management Agency standards for certification because there's a risk that they could be overtopped in a "100-year storm." Local benefits: The project will employ 240 people and residents of the 506 protected miles can expect to see lower flood insurance rates.
$150,000,000 $240,000,000 Obstructive Bridge Repair To rebuild 12 bridges that the U.S. Coast Guard says block waterways. The Coast Guard ordered the bridge owners to replace or alter the bridges, who must do so with Coast Guard oversight. Congress says the project will facilitate more "cost-effective" shipping for manufactures and the producers of raw materials. Benefits bridge owners, who will be reimbursed a pre-determined share of the construction costs by the government, after reconstruction is complete. Money is for eight states: Ala., Ill., Iowa, La., Mo., Wis., Tenn., Texas
$0 $50,000,000 Central Utah Completion Act Project For the operation of the project, a water management program that collects municipal industrial water and agricultural water, and conserves and distributes clean water. Targets specific local recipient.
$0 $50,000,000 California Bay-Delta Restoration Act For water quality, habitat restoration and levee projects in California's San Francisco Bay Area and its watershed, which stretches into the Sierra Nevada mountains. Targets specific local recipient.
$6,000,000,000 $3,500,000,000 Higher education renovation and repairs Directs state higher education agencies to give priority to institutions "affected by a Gulf hurricane disaster." Benefits aimed at Gulf states, including New Orleans and Galveston, Texas.
$0 $2,000,000 Plumbers and pipefitters training To train Native Americans for careers as plumbers and pipefitters. Benefits specific program and industry.
$88,000,000 $88,000,000 Public Health Service Helps agencies in the Public Health Service building move when their lease expires in July 2010. A boost for Rockville, M.D., home of the HQ.
$245,000,000 $171,000,000 Agriculture Department Farm Service Agency Specifies use for salaries and expenses.
$3,250,000,000 $3,250,000,000 Bonneville Power Administration Increases borrowing authority for the government-run energy marketer, based in Portland, Ore., which distributes power from federal hydroelectric dams and other sources. Targeted at powerful regional entity.
$3,250,000,000 $3,260,000,000 Western Area Power Administration Increases borrowing authority for the government-run Lakewood, Colo. and Salt Lake City, Utah,-based energy marketer that distributes power in Western states. Targeted at powerful regional entity. An additional $10 million is to be awarded for general operating expenses.