Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Blunt Requests $153 M in Earmarks for 2010

Congressman Roy Blunt has requested $153 million dollars in earmarks for the 2010 fiscal year, including $45 million dollars for a Joplin company to help develop a missile defense program.
The $45 million dollar earmark for LaBarge Inc. is the largest of Blunt's requests listed on his House website.
Under new House rules regarding the earmark process, members who ask for funding must post each request on their Web site. The deadline for posting was Saturday.
Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group that's poured through most of the House member web sites lists Blunt as one of the lawmakers who didn't meet the deadline. But Blunt's earmarks were listed on his site by Monday afternoon, and spokesperson Nick Simpson said he wasn't sure why the group listed Blunt as not complying. Simpson said he believed they were posted by Friday afternoon.
Blunt's second biggest earmark request is also for a Joplin company to help develop military technology. The $10 million dollar request for Accenture National Security Services is described as a program "to distribute services and manage them for the entire military enterprise."
The Congressman asked for about $35 million dollars for Springfield projects, including $3 million to expand wireless broadband access for city employees, $2 million for a natural gas fueling station for city vehicles, $1.3 million dollars for Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Visitor Center, $1.16 million for a foreign language training program at Missouri State University, $1 million dollars for software, video conferencing and other equipment for Greene County Emergency Operations and $600,000 for a pre-kindergarten program.
The Taxpayers for Common Sense note that lawmakers aren't using any uniform standard to disclose the spending items. "The only thing consistent among the various web sites is inconsistency," says the website. "Some lawmakers put a link to the disclosures right on the home page, while others bury their requests under an electronic rock, forcing constituents to click through several pages under legislation, district initiatives, issues or some other general category. Once you get to the disclosures themselves they take all manner of forms, from scores of actual letters to summary write-ups on the page. Some lawmakers have failed to include the requested amounts as directed. While others, like Reps. Kingston (R-GA), Driehaus (D-OH), and Rehberg (R-MT) have posted all the requests their office received rather than just what they decided to request of the Appropriations Committee, effectively obscuring the information from their constituents and contravening the spirit, if not the letter of the new rule," the site goes on.
Meanwhile, the Citizens Against Congressional Waste is out with their own 2008 Pig Book, a list of projects included in an appropriation bill that does not go through the normal budgetary process. CAGW said Blunt had 22 questionable projects, totaling around $46 million. Sen. Kit Bond had 142 projects at $309 million.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Russ Feingold are the only U.S. Senators not on the list, because they don't request earmarks.

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