News sources on Thursday are reporting just what America really got when an agreement was reached yesterday on the bill to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling.
Again, as it has done so many times in the past, Congress couldn't help but add a little extra pork fat to the supposedly "clean resolution." As one news source said, "You have to hand it to a Congress that finds no bill is off limits for pork."
You may be surprised to learn that a dam project on the Ohio River in Kentucky received a lot of money, $2.2 billion to be exact. And call it coincidence, but one of the bill's co-sponsors is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Conservative groups are now calling it "The Kentucky Kickback."
Another less controversial bit of added fluff in the 35 page bill includes $450 million earmarked for rebuilding of bridges and roads in flood-ravaged Colorado. The amount is way over the $100 million limit set by the Department of Transportation as allowed in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act.
Paying a widow death benefits is something that is difficult to oppose, and the fact that Congress always votes to approve death benefits equal to one years salary for a deceased member is not in question. Senator Frank Lautenberg had served in the U.S. Senate almost 30 years before succumbing to viral pneumonia in June 2013.
His net worth was estimated to be well over $59 million at the time of his death, making him one of the wealthiest members of Congress. Many are asking why this particular provision, the payment of death benefits, needed to be added to the debt resolution.
There were, of course, many more little additions to the pork barrel, money going to "this agency and that agency." The point many people want to make is this, "Why add these provisions to a debt ceiling resolution, that by the way, is supposed to be a "clean resolution."
If the added requests were as important as many say they are, then they should have been able to stand alone based on their own merits. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) told the Daily Beast,
“It shows that there are people in this body who are willing to use any occasion to get an outrageous pork-barrel project done at the cost of millions and millions of dollars. It’s disgusting.”
Oh, on page 20 of the bill it states Congress will get no cost of living adjustment this year. Actually, it has been four years since their last raise. It must be nice to make $174,000 a year.