Still pork busting
After Democrats broke the Republican filibuster Saturday against a pork-stuffed spending bill in the Senate, Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, bashed Republicans and Democrats who continue to slip special projects into these bills despite the growing backlash against government waste.
The 2008 Republican presidential nominee, who had promised to veto bills larded with earmarks if elected president, reminded the Senate of his distaste for the practice on Saturday by reading a long list of projects, secured by members of both parties, contained in the bill - many with a heavy dose of sarcasm.
He criticized everything - little-used airports in Mississippi being funded with earmarks secured by Republican senators, money allotted for a city beautification project in Scranton, Pa., and the Laredo Little Theatre in Texas, which is getting a boost from the bill.
Mr. McCain said one of his “favorites” was an earmark for $2.6 million to support surgical operations in outer space, at the University of Nebraska. “Get Dr. Spock here and Bones and get them out there and help them at the university,” he sneered. He also criticized an earmark to study Woodstock: “In order to really do a lot more research on that great cultural moment, we’re going to spend $30,000 for the Woodstock film festival youth initiative.”
He counted 4,752 earmarks in all and said it was indicative of “the greatest act of generational theft that’s been committed in the history of this country.”
“In the last campaign, the president of the United States campaigned for change, change you can believe in. There’s no change here,” Mr. McCain said. “We’re spending money like a drunken sailor, and the bar is still open.”
Speaking in the mostly empty Senate and glancing up to the upper gallery populated by tourists taking a Saturday morning tour of the Capitol, Mr. McCain said, “There’s a peaceful revolution going on out there, and they’re sick and tired of the way we do business here in Washington.”
“People who vote for this kind of pork-barrel spending are going to be punished by the voters,” Mr. McCain threatened, hitting his table loudly with his fingers for emphasis.
The Saturday vote on a massive $446.8 billion omnibus spending bill that lumped yearly appropriations for several agencies into one required some lawmakers to make unusual accommodations for it.
In order for it to pass, an assistant needed to roll the 92-year-old dean of the Senate, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, into the chamber in his wheelchair in order to cast his vote.
And Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent and an Orthodox Jew, walked miles from his synagogue, because his religion frowns upon using modern conveniences, such as a car, on the Sabbath.