Murray, Dicks rank high in earmarks
Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Norm Dicks were among the winners in the earmark quest of fiscal year 2008, according to a new report by the...
Seattle Times Washington bureau
Taxpayers for Common Sense report: www.taxpayer.net/budget/fy08appropschart.html
WASHINGTON — Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Norm Dicks were among the winners in the earmark quest of fiscal year 2008, according to a new report by the consumer group Taxpayers for Common Sense.
But neither come close to Sen. Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican well-known for steering federal projects to his state.
Stevens, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured about $502 million in earmarks, despite the cloud hanging over him from an ongoing federal investigation into corruption allegations.
Earmarks are federal dollars that members of Congress dole out to specific projects — often to the benefit of their constituents.
The 2008 earmark champion is Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, the report by Taxpayers for Common Sense said. Cochran's pet projects netted $774 million.
Murray, a Washington state Democrat who also is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was among the top 10 earmarking senators, said Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense. She obtained more than $247 million in projects.
Much of that came from her role as chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation. Her press releases have credited her with a minimum of $152 million for transportation and housing projects in several counties, including King, Pierce, Benton and Chelan.
She also boasts helping win at least $21 million in defense and research-and-development contracts for state firms.
Dicks, D-Bremerton, obtained nearly $87 million in earmarks, placing him among the top 10 in the House, the report said. Dicks chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee for the Interior and Environment, which deals with funding for national parks and forests. He's also a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense.
In total, lawmakers have directed at least $60 million in defense projects to Washington state from the nearly $8 billion in earmarks in the military spending bill for fiscal year 2008, the database shows. There could be even more.
Despite promises of more transparency in requesting earmarks, about $4.5 billion in defense projects are earmark orphans whose sponsors in Congress have not disclosed themselves.
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, won a $3.5 million contract for research on unmanned Air Force drones for The InSitu Group of Bingen, Klickitat County, and $1.6 million for Army work by a division of General Dynamics in Moses Lake.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, won $2 million for the Air Force's Warfighter Pocket XP computer, made by the Spokane firm Itronix.
And Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, joined Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, in winning $1 million for a self-inflating sleep pad from Cascade Designs in Seattle, used by the Marines.
Whether all these projects actually go forward is unclear. The transportation spending bill is being blocked by Senate Republicans and faces a probable presidential veto, and the Interior funding bill is still in limbo.
Alicia Mundy: 202-662-7457 or email@example.com
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