- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

When Congress announced a ban on budget earmarks earlier this year, many believed that the wasteful spending practice had been killed once and for all.

In February, Sen. Daniel Inouye, Hawaii Democrat and chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, gave the eulogy. “The president has stated unequivocally that he will veto any legislation containing earmarks, and the House will not pass any bills that contain them. Given the reality before us, it makes no sense to accept earmark requests that have no chance of being enacted into law.”

Well, a new study suggests that doesn’t seem to be the case.

It turns out that this corrupt, backdoor spending practice that has wasted untold billions on pet projects back home is alive and well, though apparently cloaked in procedural and applicational mumbo-jumbo to make it look legitimate.

A six-month investigation by Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, discovered 115 earmarks in this year’s defense authorization bill - 40 of them from House Republicans (many of whom ran against earmarks) and 75 from House Democrats.

Another 31 earmarks were found, but apparently there was insufficient information to identify their congressional accomplices.

Among Mrs. McCaskill’s findings was a $2.5 million line item inserted into the House bill by freshman Rep. Robert T. Schilling, Illinois Republican, for Quad City Manufacturing Lab at the Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, Ill.

If all goes according to plan, the money will be used for “the development of innovative manufacturing techniques and process for munitions and weapons systems.”

Notably, the language used in Mr. Schilling’s request used the same language that his Democratic predecessor used in previous earmarks.

Mr. Schilling’s aides maintain that what they added to the military authorization bill was not an earmark, but a request for funding that the lab would have to duly apply for under the government’s usual contracting process.

Mr. Schilling, part of the wave of GOP conservatives who took control of the House in the midterm elections, wrote in a local website last year, “We need earmark reform that improves transparency, roots out corruption and eliminates wasteful spending. My opponent never met an earmark he didn’t like.”

Mrs. McCaskill, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal who has been one of President Obama’s biggest supporters, doesn’t have clean hands on this issue, either.

John Brunner, one of her Republican opponents in next year’s election, accuses her of hypocrisy and is running a website video attacking her for a $1.9 million earmark for the Pleasure Beach Water Taxi Service in Pleasure Beach, Conn.

“The Pleasure Beach Water Taxi earmark was originally included in the fiscal year 2009 omnibus spending bill. But when senators offered an amendment to specifically eliminate the Pleasure Beach Water Taxi earmark, Mrs. McCaskill specifically voted to keep it (Senate Amendment No. 610, 03/04/09),” Mr. Brunner’s video says.

“While Claire McCaskill claims to oppose earmarks, her record is filled with support for thousands of earmarks,” his video adds.

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