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Lobbyist Cozy With Lawmaker Wins Jackpot

Visclosky funnels $44M in earmarks to clients not even in his state

(Newser) - If you’ve got a tech company looking for a handout from the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, might we recommend calling Rep. Peter Visclosky? Or more accurately, call K&L Gates, a lobbying firm that boasts in its marketing documents, “a very good relationship” with Visclosky, the third-ranking member of... More »

Murtha Institute Hands Money to Murtha Friends

Funds to beef up security are showered on connected firms

(Newser) - The John P. Murtha Institute for Homeland Security may look like a mostly deserted basement below an Indiana University of Pennsylvania dormitory, but over the years it’s overseen $50 million in federal funds—almost all of it going to Murtha’s friends and industry allies, a Washington Post investigation... More »

Anti-Earmark Rep. Scores Earmark for Blimp Research

Sessions' $1.6M went to firm not in his district

(Newser) - Rep. Pete Sessions is a vocal opponent of earmarks, but last year he scored one for a company that's not even in his district. Thanks to Sessions, $1.6 million for airship research went to a firm with no experience in either government contracting or blimp-making, Politico reports. Seems that... More »

Our Decrepit Democracy Can't Fix Health Care: Klein

(Newser) - Powerful special interests are killing health-care reform, which is par for the course in Congress, writes Joe Klein of Time. “We’ve gotten rusty at legislating,” says one Tennessee Democrat. That’s overly kind, Klein retorts. The only bills that pass these days are essentials like budgets and... More »

House Bill Loaded With $6.5B the Pentagon Doesn't Want

(Newser) - They gave up on the F22, but Congress is still trying to give the Pentagon $6.9 billion in planes, helicopters and ships the Defense secretary doesn’t want, the Washington Post reports. House Democrats have loaded the defense spending bill with earmarks for programs Barack Obama and Robert Gates... More »

Dems Get in Shouting and (Alleged) Shoving Match

'He touched me first,' says Waters

(Newser) - A pair of House Democrats had a less-than-decorous exchange on the floor yesterday, the Hill reports. With the chamber clearing out after a series of votes, Appropriations chair David Obey and Maxine Waters began screaming at each other over an earmark for a school bearing Waters' name. “You’re... More »

Obama's Pet Power Plant Gets Stimulus Cash

(Newser) - When the stimulus was in the works, President Obama went to great lengths to show he was sacrificing his top pet project—a clean-coal power plant to be built in Illinois—on the altar of fiscal responsibilities. “It shows that we’re serious,” a rep for Nancy Pelosi... More »

Dem Lawmakers Cry Foul on Obama Budget Cuts

President's targets for cuts have eager defenders in Congress

(Newser) - To make an omelet, you’ve got to break some eggs. But some of the eggs President Obama broke in the list of budget cuts unveiled yesterday were golden eggs for lawmakers, and even members of his own party wasted no time in protesting, the Washington Post reports. Dems who... More »

Pentagon Gives $4M in No-Bid Contracts to Murtha Nephew

Looks bad, even if no evidence of meddling

(Newser) - It can be hard for a defense contractor to be related to a powerful legislator with hands on the military’s purse strings. Just ask Robert Murtha, nephew of Democrat John Murtha, and chief of Murtech—everyone assumes that his success is his uncle’s work. Today, the Washington Post... More »

Mormon Crickets: Earmark to Some, Real Plague to Others

(Newser) - Critics, most notably John McCain, have lambasted the latest omnibus spending bill for its 8,500 earmarks; one frequently cited provision is $1 million to fight Mormon crickets in Utah. “Is that a species of cricket or a game played by the Brits?” joked McCain over Twitter. But to... More »

Palin Hates Earmarks, but Alaska's No. 1

State has highest amount per capita; Is crusade on hold?

(Newser) - Sarah Palin crusaded against earmarks as a VP candidate, but she's going to reap the benefits as a governor. The new spending bill gives Alaska a total of $143.9 million for various projects, or $210 for each resident—the most per capita of any state, write Jonathan Stein and... More »

Obama Takes Baby Steps on Earmark Reform

Some say he missed opportunity; others fault lack of specifics

(Newser) - President Obama announced moves to curb pork-barrel spending yesterday, but not as decisively as some hoped, Politico reports. Obama said he was signing the “imperfect omnibus because it’s necessary for the ongoing functions of government,” but in future he wants fewer earmarks in federal spending measures, and... More »

Mass. Earmarks Have Familiar Theme: Kennedys

(Newser) - More than one out of every five dollars of the $126 million Massachusetts is receiving in earmarks from a $410 billion federal spending package is going to help preserve the legacy of the Kennedys. The bill includes $5.8 million for the planning and design of a building to house... More »

Obama Signs 'Imperfect' Spending Bill

(Newser) - President Obama, sounding weary of criticism over federal earmarks, defended Congress' pet projects today as he signed an "imperfect" $410 billion measure with thousands of examples. But he said the spending does need tighter restraint and listed guidelines to provide it, including more transparency. Obama, accused of hypocrisy by... More »

Earmarks? No, 'Crank' Mac Warrants Earplugs

(Newser) - Most also-ran candidates slip off quietly once the presidential campaign is over, and yet the media is still interested in what John McCain has to say. The attention is undeserved, Paul Waldman writes in the American Prospect. McCain’s signature issue, earmarks, is “as substantively empty as could be,... More »

Sen. Crotchety Routine Is Old

Senator's attacks on federal spending starting to seem like sour grapes

(Newser) - John McCain's complaining about the omnibus spending bill is starting to sound more like he's trying to fight the election again instead of fighting pork-barrel spending, Mike Madden writes in Salon. The senator appears to be going out of his way to remind people how much he disagrees with President... More »

Angry McCain Slams Obama Over Earmarks

Old spending bill proves minefield for Democrats

(Newser) - Democrats were hoping they could sneak the $410 billion omnibus spending bill from last fall quietly through the Senate and onto the president’s desk, to make way for the 2010 budget. But John McCain is having none of it. “If it seems like I’m angry, it’s... More »

Dems Shrug Off Obama's Call to Battle Earmarks

'Faceless bureaucrats' shouldn't guide funds: Reid

(Newser) - Leading Democratic lawmakers didn't welcome President Obama’s call to jettison budget earmarks, suggesting that as elected officials, they should control where funds are headed, the Hill reports. “We cannot let spending be done by a bunch of nameless, faceless bureaucrats,” Harry Reid said yesterday. Obama pointed to... More »

Feds Raid Contractors With Ties to Murtha

Veteran Dem has steered $100M to probed company

(Newser) - Federal agents yesterday raided the offices and homes of two Pennsylvania defense contractors with strong ties to powerful Congressman John Murtha, Politico reports. The lawmaker has steered more than $100 million in federal contracts to the companies, and their employees have given more than $65,000 in contributions to Murtha.... More »

Mac Is Back, Pushing Reforms

GOP stalwart returns to Senate, eye on reining in lobbying and earmarks

(Newser) - Sen. John McCain, forgotten but not gone after his failed bid for the presidency, was back in form this week as he pushed bipartisan reform of earmarks and lobbying, Congressional Quarterly reports. Though the Arizona Republican’s eyes were watery and he had some trouble reading at the press conference,... More »

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