The 1981 transportation bill contained only 10 earmarks. President Reagan vetoed a transportation bill in 1987 that contained 121 earmarks, saying, “I haven't seen this much lard since I handed out blue ribbons at the Iowa State Fair.” In 2005, Congress passed a transportation bill that included an astonishing 6,371 earmarks at a cost of $27.3 billion.
The Fiscal Year 2008 Transportation Appropriations bill now before the Senate contains more than 500 earmarked projects costing more than $2 billion. These earmarks include nearly $12 million dedicated to bicycle paths.
Dr. Coburn's amendments to this appropriations bill:
- Amendment 2810 would prohibit spending federal transportation funds on earmarks until all structurally deficient bridges in the U.S. are repaired;
- Amendment 2811 would prohibit transportation funding from being spent on bicycle trails;
- Amendment 2812 would strike $450,000 in funding for the International Peace Garden in Dunseith, North Dakota;
- Amendment 2813 would require that the housing needs of all Louisiana residents displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are met before spending money to design or construct a Wetland Center in Lake Charles, Louisiana;
- Amendment 2814 would strike $500,000 in funding for construction of a new baseball stadium in Billings, Montana;
- Amendment 2815 would strike $250,000 in funding for construction of a new museum in Peoria, Illinois.
In a press release, Dr. Coburn said, “The American people understand that transportation earmarks often have more to do with a politician’s re-election campaign than the true priorities of each state’s department of transportation. Congress’ choices in this area have a major impact on public safety. The hard reality according to the American Society of Civil Engineers is that substandard road conditions contribute to deaths of more than 13,000 Americans every year. If there was ever a case that highlighted the true cost of Congress’ reckless spending habits, this is it."
AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF CONGRESSIONAL EARMARKS WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Dr. Coburn requested an independent review of congressional earmarks within the Department of Transportation from the department’s Inspector General in August 2006. Click here to read a summary.
Click here to read the full report, “Review of Congressional Earmarks within Department of Transportation Programs” which was completed on September 7, 2007.
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