One has to wonder what the logic is in vetoing a bill that passed originally with a veto-proof majority. Undoubtedly the $23 billion water resources authorization bill is laden with—a conservative estimate here—at least $20 billion in unneeded pork spending, but only the second thing you should get in front of when a politician is angling for it is free money for his or her district—the first thing, of course, being a camera.
Besides which, given the Democrats’ rate of progress on appropriations bills (proving if nothing else that appropriations laziness is a bipartisan affliction), I doubt we’ll ever see any of this money appropriated anyway.
I’m sure the Porkbusters are apoplectic—so apoplectic, in fact, they’ve neglected to update their website in four months. Anticipatory apoplexy?
Probably the most prominent feature of the past 30–40 years of American politics has been the near-simultaneous rise in party unity in the House and the evolution of aggressive majority-party control of the chamber.
To wit, the Democrats under Nancy Pelosi are behaving more-or-less identically with the Republicans under Newt Gingrich. John J. Pitney, Jr., chronicles the “old-boss, same-boss” dynamic here, with special demerits for Pelosi’s would-be right-hand-man,
Jim John Murtha, who was given a pass on violating House rules on decorum after threatening retribution against a GOP lawmaker who proposed stripping funding from a pork project in Murtha’s constituency.
That isn’t to say that the majority party controls everything, even in the House; the bipartisan backers of bringing home the bacon appear to be behind this move to relocate pork-stuffing to conference committees, which will immunize pork provisions from being amended out of legislation. The Porkbusters Weenies™ are nervous, but as a political scientist, I’m just surprised it took the House that long to decide to lard up appropriations in conference.
As they say, heh.
Or to put it another way, one man’s pork is another man’s necessary infrastructure project. After all, the good people of New Orleans could get along just dandy with a repaired 4-lane I-10 Lake Pontchartrain bridge for years to come (especially when you consider that the depopulation of the city is going to make a widened span unnecessary for the forseeable future, Mayor Nagin’s revitalization fantasies aside)... Katrina alone shouldn’t bump them to the head of the line for a fancy new 6-lane span. And, surely, a real “porkbuster” would favor letting the FHWA bureaucracy, not Congress, decide where the money would best be spent. Let’s see how many votes that Coburn amendment would get; my bet is pretty close to zero.
Incidentally, my lack of sympathy also goes for using emergency rebuilding funds to pay for decades-old wishlist items and “new urbanism” tripe on the Gulf Coast instead of sticking to the essentials.