Lame Duck Congress To Reinstate Earmarks, Approve Pork Barrel Projects

It’s been said that lame duck sessions of Congress are the most dangerous time in Washington, D.C., and this time around Congress is living up to the reputation.

On Monday, the House voted to pass H.R. 985, the Concrete Masonry Products, Research, Education, and Promotion Act of 2015. As you can tell by the name, the bill accomplishes this lofty piece of pork-barrel flesh by doing what all good liberals do: tax and spend.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky. (F, 45%), would create a Concrete Masonry Products Board composed of 15-25 members appointed by the Department of Commerce after a referendum approval by producers of concrete masonry products. This board will have the power to establish, finance, and carry out a “coordinated research and education program,” ostensibly to “promote masonry products in the domestic market,” according to a legislative bulletin email from the Republican Study Committee. This program will be paid for by a “federally administered assessment.”

An “assessment,” in case you were not aware, is Washington-speak for a “tax” — in this case, a tax on concrete.

The bill provides for a 1 percent tax “per concrete masonry unit sold.” Basically it taxes everything built in America with concrete, which is nearly every commercial property, and many residential projects. This would be near and dear to Donald Trump’s heart for “infrastructure,” but I don’t think he would have this particular lobbyist-crafted turd in mind.

And this week, the House is continuing its pork party in a plan to eliminate the ban on earmarks.

Republican Reps. John Culberson of Texas, Mike Rogers of Alabama and Tom Rooney of Florida filed the amendment, which will be voted on through a secret ballot during the GOP leadership elections.

The amendment chips away at the earmark ban instituted by House Republicans in 2011 —later adopted by the full chamber — and would “restore Congress’s constitutional duty and allow the more effective use of the power of the purse in a way that is transparent and responsible,” according to a copy of the amendment obtained by The Hill.

The provision would allow lawmakers to direct specific funds to some federal agencies — such as the Defense Department, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Homeland Security and the Bureau of Reclamation — and state and local governments. It would continue to ban Congress from earmarking federal cash for recreational facilities, museums or parks.

Removing the earmarks ban opens the floodgates for every back room deal on military equipment, facilities, shady land deals, and bridges to nowhere. Congress should be ashamed of itself.

With the most major transition of political power since Reagan replaced Carter hitting in 62 days, the Congressional lame ducks are working overtime in turd production. For the love of all that’s living and green, please, put a stop to it. It’s irresponsible and only serves to reinforce Americans low opinion of our legislators.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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