CNN's Gary Tuchman and Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense investigate an Alaskan airport costing taxpayers millions.
James R. Carroll
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers — known for his ability to secure funding for projects in his Eastern Kentucky district — was selected Tuesday as the new chairman of House Appropriations, the most powerful committee in Congress.
The 5th District Republican was chosen by the GOP steering committee in a secret vote late Tuesday afternoon. The decision is expected to be ratified Wednesday by the rest of the House Republicans.
Rogers beat out fellow committee veteran and former chairman Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., and relative newcomer Jack Kingston, R-Ga.
“I am humbled and thrilled with the steering committee's decision, and look forward to the honor and responsibility of leading the Appropriations Committee next year if the full GOP conference approves the recommendation tomorrow,” Rogers said in a statement.
“There is no doubt that we have a tough and demanding chore ahead of us. The nation is in a fiscal crisis, and hard decisions are coming.”
Republicans took control of the House in the November election, giving it the power to name the chamber's leaders, including committee chairmen.
Rogers will preside over the writing of all the federal spending bills — and over the House GOP leadership's plans next year to whack away at President Barack Obama's next budget and stem the flow of dollars out of Washington.
In the lead-up to the selection, some conservatives argued that neither Rogers nor Lewis was qualified to be the chairman because of their past history as vigorous users of earmarks, special requests for spending on state and local projects.
Critics dubbed Rogers “the Prince of Pork” and called his earmark-benefitted district, where everything from highway construction to homeland security contracts had the Kentuckian's help over the years, “Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.”
Rogers secured 137 earmarks worth $251.9 million between 2008 and 2010, according to LegisStorm, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog group. That ranked him 99th among Senate and House members with earmarks.
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/14/earmarks/art.pig.file.afp.gi.jpg caption="The CAGW identifies 'pork' projects, compiling them into a 'Congressional Pig Book' every year."]
Citizens Against Government Waste
The Congressional Pig Book is Citizens Against Government Waste's annual compilation of the pork-barrel projects in the federal budget. This year's book identified 9,129 projects at a cost of $16.5 billion in the 12 Appropriations Acts for the fiscal year 2009.
A "pork" project is a line-item in an appropriations bill that designates tax dollars for a specific purpose in circumvention of established budgetary procedures. To qualify as pork, a project must meet one of seven criteria that were developed in 1991 by CAGW and the Congressional Porkbusters Coalition.
Read More about this year's Congressional Pig Book and pork projects here.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/06/liberal.republicans/art.specter.gi.jpg caption="Specter: won the 'Dunder-head Mifflin Award' for a $200,000 business center in Scranton."]
Here are so-called "Oinkers" of the year, listed in the "2010 Congressional Pig Book Summary," which was released on Wednesday by the nonpartisan group Citizens Against Government Waste.
• The Dunder-head Mifflin Award (from the fictional paper company of the sitcom "The Office") - Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania, and Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pennsylvania, for $200,000 for design and construction of a small business incubator and multipurpose center in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
• Thad the Impaler Award - Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi, for $490 million in pork, including $200,000 for the Washington National Opera for set design, installation and performing arts at libraries and schools, and $500,000 for the University of Southern Mississippi for cannabis eradication.
Editor's note: A nationally syndicated columnist, Roland S. Martin is the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith" and "Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America." Visit his Web site for more information.
Roland S. Martin
Whenever the opposing coach playing Texas A&M University would go off on the referees, our yell leaders - we don't have cheerleaders - would signal the crowd to do one of our yells that ends with, "Sit down bus driver!"
As I watched Sen. John McCain stand up and go on one of his rants about earmarks, I wanted to shout, "Sit down bus driver!"
Look, I like Sen. McCain, and to be honest, I agree with him 100 percent that Congress shouldn't be spending billions of dollars on pet projects, but I'm also realistic: no one truly cares.
Really, no one cares. Sure, there are a few folks in Congress who rail against earmarks. And there are outside pressure groups who are trying to rally the American people to voice their outrage about the process, but I firmly believe that the folks at home love to send their members of Congress to bring the bacon back home.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/16/art.capitolbuildling2.jpg%5D
Special Investigations Unit Correspondent
We’re waiting to find out if the U.S. Senator’s earmark requests this year will jam the Senate Appropriations computer. The deadline for getting those pet project requests in is next Friday, April 25. And if the requests are anything like their counterparts in the House, the computer will experience a “slow down”, as house staffers called it, due to the load of pet projects being requested.
But we’ve learned there is going to be a significant taxpayer savings from at least two U.S. Senators. Which two? Guess?
Good afternoon, friends... How will the newest economic data play in the presidential race?
The unemployment rate shot up to 5.1% last month from 4.8%. That's a big jump, and the highest rate since 2005. The economy lost 80,000 jobs–the most in a single month in five years. Plus, a NYT/CBS poll finds 81% say the country is on the wrong track.
Against that backdrop, Joe Johns is keeping them honest, revealing Congress's most egregious earmarks - millions of your tax dollars spent on pet projects that many call a waste of money. As investigative journalist David Cay Johnston reports in his bestselling book, "Free Lunch," $98,000 goes to develop a walking tour of Boydton, Va., a town of less than one square mile with a population of 474. Is that how you'd like your hard earnings spent?
Also on 360 tonight, Clinton, Obama and McCain honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 40 years after he was shot and killed on a motel balcony. Later, Clinton and Obama address the North Dakota Democratic convention. Obama holds a Town Hall in Indiana. Bill Clinton works North Carolina.
Drew Griffin monitors a congressional hearing on a wave of airline safety issues, with four under investigation for allegedly violating safety directives, and accusations the FAA is too cozy with industry to protect travelers, plus cockpit windshields and landing gear failing. What's going on here?
Continuing coverage of our Planet in Peril, Harris Whitbeck reports on the mysterious Dengue Fever ripping through Rio de Janeiro, with at least 54 deaths and nearly 30,000 illnesses already this year. Could the fever threaten the U.S.?
Thank you for joining us at 10pm.
Comments to the 360° blog are moderated. What does that mean?
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.
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
Morning Folks....Happy Monday!!! A few more victories for Obama and Huckabee over the weekend on the Raw Politics front...NOW it is onto Maryland, Virginia and DC. Is the former Democratic front-runner now the underdog? AND if McCain is the assumed nominee, why is Huckabee still pulling in votes? PLUS we are keeping the Bush budget honest, this morning...Sooo grab your coffee and take a look at today's headlines...
Future of U.S. troops in Iraq...
A pause in the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq after the current reduction is completed in July "makes sense," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters in Baghdad Monday.
Death penalty for 9-11 roles...
Military prosecutors have decided to seek the death penalty for six GITMO detainees who are to be charged with central roles in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, government officials who have been briefed on the charges said Sunday.
Iraq War planning buried...
The Army is accustomed to protecting classified information. But when it comes to the planning for the Iraq war, even an unclassified assessment can acquire the status of a state secret.
Get out of Iraq to boost economy...
The heck with Congress' big stimulus bill. The way to get the country out of recession — and most people think we're in one — is to get the country out of Iraq, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.
New problems in the market...
A widening array of financial-market problems threatens to trigger a new phase in the global credit crunch, extending it beyond the risky mortgages that have cost banks and investors more than $100 billion in losses and helped push the U.S. economy toward recession.
Works by Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh were stolen from an art foundation's gallery in Zurich, Switzerland, according to Bernd Quellenberg, a spokesman for the Kunsthaus, a major art museum in Zurich.
Obama wins Maine...
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Obama was leading Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York 59 percent to 40 percent. At stake are 24 delegates to August's Democratic national convention in Denver.
Huckabee wins again...
Just as Senator John McCain appeared poised to become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, he was reminded over the weekend that many Republican voters still have not climbed aboard his bandwagon.
Clinton staff shakeup...
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton has replaced her campaign manager with a longtime adviser, Maggie Williams, the campaign announced Sunday.
DC, Maryland blitz...
Democratic presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, their family members and surrogates swept through the Washington region yesterday, appearing in packed churches, schools and retirement communities in a blitz of activity two days before the high-stakes "Potomac Primary" in Virgina, Maryland and the District.
Keeping them Honest
President Bush often denounces the propensity of Congress to earmark money for pet projects. But in his new budget, Mr. Bush has requested money for thousands of similar projects.
Clemens doping denials...
A lawyer for Brian McNamee believes the Justice Department will open a criminal investigation into Roger Clemens' denials of doping.
What YOU will be talking about TODAY
And the Grammy goes too...
Winehouse, the troubled singer and songwriter who was let out of rehab to perform via satellite at the 50th annual Grammy Awards Sunday night, took home awards in five of the six categories in which she was nominated, including three of the big four general categories: record of the year, song of the year (both for "Rehab") and best new artist.