WASHINGTON---One of the first appropriations bills completed by the House and Senate was military construction. House and Senate appropriators seized upon the opportunity to load up the bill with projects not requested by the Pentagon. In total, House appropriators added $619 million while their Senate counterparts added $768 million. A few congressional bellies were apparently left wanting, because appropriators added another $38.8 million to the conference report. The final conference agreement placed military construction spending for fiscal 2003 at $10.5 billion, or 835 million above the president's request.
Taxpayers Get the Cold Shoulder. Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) never misses an opportunity to send as many projects to his state as possible, regardless of whether or not the Department of Defense wants the projects. In the fiscal 2003 Military Construction Appropriations Bill, Stevens snagged $42.9 million in unrequested funds, including $19.5 million for the Blair Lakes Range Maintenance Complex at Eielson Air Force Base, and $15 million for a community center at Fort Richardson.
Lookie Here! I'm Trying to Get Re-elected. Senate Military Constructions Appropriations subcommittee member Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) helped secure $26.7 million in pork to aid his re-election bid. Projects headed to South Dakota include: $13.2 million for an operations facility at Ellsworth Air Force Base, and $10.6 million for barracks, dining, and parking for the National Guard at Camp Rapid.
Kentucky Reign. Senate appropriator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has never let his state fall far behind in the mad dash for appropriations. The bill contains $16.5 million of unrequested projects added by the Senate, including: $9.7 million for Phase II of an ammunition demilitarization facility; and $6.8 million for containment fencing at Fort Knox. The gold may be safe in Kentucky, but your money isn't.
Farr Far away. $8.5 million was added by House Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee member Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.), including $7 million to begin replacement of Spanagel Hall at the Naval Postgraduate school. Farr bragged about his additions to the bill, but one wonders whether or not he will be bragging about the federal government's $157 billion deficit this year.
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-ends- CAGW PORK ALERT: Fiscal 2003 Military Construction Appropriation