THIS MAY be the year of reduced federal spending and balanced budgets, but you could never tell it from looking at the old pork barrel.
Take, for example, a small part of the supplemental appropriations bill pending before the House of Representatives. The administration had asked for $39.6 million more in water projects for the Corps of Engineers. The House Appropriations Committee, that staunch guardian of the public purse, promptly raised the ante to $210 million.The committee also wrote specific instructions about three projects.
Project One is the "design and construction of grade stabilization structures along Twenty Mile Creek in Lee, Itawamba and Prentiss counties, Mississippi." Who represents those counties in Congress? Jamie L. Whitten, chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
Project Two is the "design and construction of a retaining wall" at the Site 3 of the Hollywood-Ardmore beach area in Chicago. Sidney Yates of Chicago is chairman of an appropriations subcommittee.
Project Three is the "construction and/or implementation of a plan selected by the Corps of Engineers for providing protection of the community of Coffeeville, Miss., from high stages, to a level of 236 feet plus three feet of freeboard, on Grenada Lake." Who represents Coffeeville? It's Jamie L. Whitten again.
The committee put other instructions to the corps into its report accompanying the bill. Six of the nine projects mentioned by name appear to be pets of members of the committee.
There's $6 million for the Coosa River Channel in Alabama (Tom Bevill's district; he chairs the subcommittee that oversees the Corps of Engineers); $115,000 for the Blair and Sitcum waterways in Washington (Norman Dicks); $60,000 for Lake Elsinore in California (Clair Burgener); $60,000 Johnson creek in Oregon (Robert Duncan); $500,000 for Missouri River Bank stabilization in Nebraska and South Dakota (Virginia Smith), and an unspecified amount for "snagging and clearing" of the channel below Sardis Lake in Mississippi (mr. Whitten, for the third time). There also $7 million to get construction going again at Aubrey Lake, Texas -- Ray Roberts is chairman of a Public Works subcommittee that oversees water resources.
All this comes from a committee that hailed its own internal review operations -- in this same report -- as "the congressional mechanism which has repeatedly demonstrated the greatest utility in achieving spending control."