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Some In Congress Still Don’t Get The Message

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) hands out “Porker of the Month” awards as “a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.”

June’s Porker of the Month has been named, and he is House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.). He received the award:

“. . . for littering the fiscal year (FY) 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with what appears to be pork. The defense authorization bill, drafted and approved on Chairman McKeon’s watch, originally included a $1 billion slush fund – dubbed the Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund (MFET). The final MFET contains 111 legislative provisions costing taxpayers $651.7 million; 59 of the provisions, or 53 percent, appear to be similar to projects defined as earmarks in CAGW’s 2010 Congressional Pig Book.  According to Chairman McKeon, the bill – passed in the House by a vote of 322-96 – contains no earmarks.  However, the MFET did not exist in FY 2011, and it seems to be designed to allow members to secure pork for their districts without violating the congressional earmark moratorium."

CAGW continued their justification by writing:

“Luckily, Rep. Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) amendment to eliminate the remaining $348.2 million from the MFET passed by a vote of 269-151 before the entire slush fund could be raided, but much of the damage had already been done.  CAGW is analyzing the 111 provisions to match as many as possible to both specific earmarks from 2010 and their sponsors in the House.  For example, on May 26, 2011, freshman Republican and Armed Services Committee member Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) bragged in a press release that he secured $7 million for the SUNY Albany College of Nanoscale Science “to assess the desirability of establishing a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) for nanotechnology.”  Chairman McKeon has stated that his committee will not tolerate members “pressuring the Department of Defense to use any funds other than to comply with competitive, merit-based solutions,” and a Hill staffer was quoted saying the process “has been transparent.
“CAGW President Tom Schatz said, “If Republicans wish to retain their credibility on the earmark moratorium, House leadership must immediately inform every other House committee that schemes such as the MFET will not be tolerated.  In addition, there should be complete transparency for any communication, such as letters and phone calls, from members of Congress to the Pentagon that are intended to influence where MFET money should be spent.  The chairman’s tactics represent exactly the type of unaccountable behavior that the earmark moratorium was intended to eliminate.”
“The FY 2012 authorization bill also includes language which would keep the door slightly ajar for future funding of the alternate engine program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) by requiring the Department of Defense (DOD) to reopen competition between the two engines if the JSF engine requires upgrades in the future. The alternate engine program survived on earmarks of $1.2 billion from FY 2004 through FY 2010, and the NDAA could still enable its zombie-like subsistence if President Obama does not veto the bill, as he has threatened.

Guess the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee hasn't heard the nation is facing a fiscal Armageddon.

More information about Citizens Against Government Waste is available here. You can reach Rep. McKeon's office on Capitol Hill by calling (202) 225-1956.

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