March 31st, 2008
11:16 AM ET

Did the flood of earmark requests crash Congressional computer?

Hi all... I just want to let you know we're still tracking the flood of Congressional requests to earmark and spend millions of your tax dollars for pet projects.

U.S. Capitol

The silly spending season in Congress opened with a bang, or maybe the more appropriate word is a crash. So many requests for next year’s spending bills flooded the Appropriations Committee that the computer couldn't handle it.

Committee staff says the computer "got very slow" when everyone sent in their requests at once. They insist it wasn't a "crash," just a big slow down. Um, are we parsing a little bit here?
In any case, the "slow down" prompted House leaders to move the deadline later to let members get in all their zillions of earmark requests for next year.

How many are there and what are they?  If you've been following this issue, you know Congress doesn’t trust you and me with that information yet. We've got our sources working it, though...so stand by.  

– Drew Griffin, 360° Correspondent/Special Investigations Unit

Filed under: Drew Griffin • Earmarks
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Josh Keck

    All hail the Computer!

    Computer for President 2008!

    Maybe not such a bad idea, hrmmmm...?

    April 2, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    Hi Drew

    Looking forward to your story Seems like so much waste is hidden in those earmarks and its unfortunate that our legislators do not see anything wrong with this So many they slowed the computer down – that's not a favorable sign at all. (Yes, there is a difference between a computer slowing down and a computer crashing). What ever happened to the promise that earmarks would become more visible and disclosed to the public? Is that a new year's resolution that Congress has forgotten/

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    March 31, 2008 at 9:32 pm |
  3. Olivia

    It is unconscionable, given the state of the US economy, that these fat cats just don't get it. Maybe a tax teaparty is in order.

    March 31, 2008 at 7:33 pm |
  4. Jolene

    Drew: We can debate on whether we are in a recession or not but spending, whether it be personal or corporate is becoming the focus these days. I never really had to worry about how much money I spend but I have to admit, I'm thinking twice about what and how much I'm spending these days. Even at work, it is getting harder and harder to spend large sums of money on projects without it being scrutinized with a fine tooth comb first. Bottomline, it's not such a bad thing, we are making better decisions because of it.

    So, why then doesn't our government see the importance of the public knowing what they spend the taxpayer's money on? Perhaps they feel that as long as they are spending money, that's a good thing for the economy, regardless of whether it's worthy or not. Thanks for staying on this topic, Drew, I'll be looking forward to what you uncover!

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    March 31, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  5. deb in az

    our economy has so many problems and the pet projects need to stop. bail out banks, bail out home owners.....i think congress can let the pet projects go. .. if that is a problem for them maybe they could put up their own money to finance it..... we have a bad situation with jobs leaving the country and our own government out sourcing jobs as well.....no jobs, people cant pay their mortgage and property taxes...this eliminates schools and more jobs.......which hurts the banks and the lenders......all of this needs to be straightened out....so congress stop spending, stop donating, and stop outsourcing jobs.....because guess what soon there wont be any money to pay your wages either.......

    March 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  6. Mac Waddle

    Reminds me of the fall of USSR.

    March 31, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  7. xtina

    How about giving some of that 'earmark' money back to the taxpayer? I suggest lowering the federal gasoline tax. That's simple and quick, but God forbid Congress should do it.

    (If Obama really stands for change , why aren't we hearing unorthodox ideas such as the lowering of the federal gov't 's cut of our gasoline dollar or say, term limits for Congressmen, or increasing the supply of energy by using American resources. Arent' these ideas REAL change? How come we're not hearing simple solutions such as these from Obama?)

    March 31, 2008 at 5:03 pm |
  8. Carol B., Virginia

    Hi Drew, There should be more laws or hoops for them to jump through before we hear about any more silly projects. The economy is in trouble and people are less patient about this than ever. Bet you'll need running shoes to catch up to them for an answer.

    March 31, 2008 at 4:32 pm |
  9. cary

    This is like " all lines are busy right now- please try your call again later " !! Right.

    March 31, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  10. leon

    McCain can fix this? lol... Even if he could, he gonna spend all the money in Iraq! what a joke!

    Talk is cheap, well, I will say I can fix the computer problem, just hire me and I just need half of a single congress man's salary, only thing is , tax free.

    March 31, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  11. Slater

    This is sad. Not that we are asking, that we think that like everything else in our lives, we push a button, click a mouse and BAM! Blow your mind on demand, there is the answer in 3 nanoseconds. We are such an addiction run society it just cracks me up. I really hope in the next decade our society gets some sort of addiction therapy.

    Mere slow downs due to over loading of systems is not a way in which people skirt issues, it is a real issue that we Americans somehow think is a fantasy.

    First you have incompetent government workers. Then you have incompetent electronic devices in which they have to use as tools. Then you have the higher ups that have no clue, but their fingers are trained to point away from themselves.

    By law they have to answer when asked, so eventually we will get the answers we seek. Have patience people. Just because the story is stale doesn't overshadow the need for the answer, whenever it comes.

    March 31, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  12. SUNNY

    Who didn't know this was going to happen? I did. We are a poor

    country now. We are weak and everybody in the world knows it. What will we do?

    March 31, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  13. Paris

    I like to see the Details of who asked for what.
    This is exactly what McCain talks about making the authors famous.
    McCain is the only one that can fix this.

    March 31, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  14. Damian

    I think there is nothing wrong with most pork barrel projects. Most are important programs and are usually needed to test future national programs. However I do feel that the programs and the amount invested should be made public. We need to have more transparency in Congress.

    March 31, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  15. Charlotte D

    This is too depressing.

    March 31, 2008 at 2:43 pm |
  16. seah

    Pet projects that are not for the good of all Americans. More used for pay backs and lining peoples pockets.

    A backdoor way of ripping off the government and the people.

    I think any one in office senator, congressman, on up. Should be an open book to the public, with finances and all spending. Personal and government.

    Hold them all accountable. If they have pet projects, them donate from their own pockets. Better than we the poor people.

    A vote for America is a vote against Obama

    March 31, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  17. independent

    Such a simple solution that I pray the next president implements.
    Simply have all pork project requests on one website where people
    can see two weeks before votes are cast; so they can write their
    reps. We need to hear about the pork BEFORE it becomes a late night joke, not after. The website should say who asked for the money, how much, what program, and a description of what the money will be used for. In lay language not lawyer speak.

    March 31, 2008 at 2:25 pm |
  18. Melissa

    Well at least we know from last year's experience who will be avoiding releasing their earmark requests public when you ask for them again this year Drew. I've yet heard from Congressman Brad Sherman when I emailed him and Hillary Clinton as well. Obama – you've got my vote since you released yours upon CNN's first request.

    March 31, 2008 at 1:48 pm |
  19. Becca

    Just another day in the neighborhood. Until we taxpayers start getting with the program to enforce term limits by simply not re-electing the incumbent, this little exercise of earmarks will be a regular part of our budgeting diet in Washington. There has to be a way to remind these fools that they work for us – not the other way around.

    March 31, 2008 at 1:34 pm |
  20. Susan


    It is time once again to " belly up to the bar " of tax payer money. Throw
    as many requests in and see how many of them stick. They have to get re-elected, you know.

    I do not mind tax payer money being spent as long as the benefits out-way the waste. This is why the President needs a line item veto, when
    major bills pass. The pork can run, but it can't hide.


    March 31, 2008 at 12:49 pm |
  21. Mac Waddle

    Everyone inside the Beltway should be required to watch HBO's John Adams.

    Their job is to do the work for the best of the Country. Not to drain every last penny for their own districts in order to get re-elected so they can make retirement off of Lobbyists.

    We have no true Statesmen anymore.

    Our founding Fathers would be ashamed of the mockery we have made of the Government they sacrificed so much to build.

    March 31, 2008 at 12:48 pm |
  22. Taj

    The Tax payers are sick & tired of the Govt. Billions & Billions of hard working tax payers dollors are squandered by the Govt (State & Federal) on projects which are not very beneficial to the tax payers. Our money should be spent to Job creation in the US, prospering economy, health care, social security & certainly some part for defense. Accountability is extremely poor. It is not enough that we are a Democratic country, the monies should be spent wisely for the public good. How are we going to fix the people we elect to the Govt?? It looks like that the congress has the blank check & they abuse it pretty good, most of the time.

    March 31, 2008 at 12:47 pm |
  23. April in Texas

    I will be looking forward to see what is found.

    March 31, 2008 at 12:43 pm |
  24. Richard Sanders

    The problem with pet projects is that they do not focus on the nations best interest. While some of these projects my be worthy of consideration, we are not capable of handling them at this time in our nation. We are fixing to pay a hugh bill for all the unregulated greed by banks, brokage firm, insurance companies, etc. in this sub-prime mess. We have a war to pay for, roads & bridges to fix, improved educational systems, & health care to fix. We, also, must slow down the borrowing of money for everything in the world just because we want something now! I truely fear for this country.

    March 31, 2008 at 12:35 pm |
  25. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Drew,
    It sounds like raiding the piggy bank , is alive and well. So they overloaded the brain of the computer with all their requests? What's new..Obviously, the computer has the good sense to shut down when confronted with a bloated bunch of nonsense. When will we.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    March 31, 2008 at 11:53 am |

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