WASHINGTON -- Congress went on a Christmas spending spree over the holidays for its friends in high places. You'll be getting a bill for it by April 15.
While families were buying stocking stuffers for the kids, the Democratic Congress was stuffing billions of dollars of pork into a grotesquely bloated omnibus appropriations bill.
This column looked into some of the wasteful squandering as the end-of-the-year spending bill was moving through the legislative process. But new details of its scandalous spending practices demand greater attention. A word of warning though, to those who have high blood pressure: read this sitting down.
Next time you go out for seafood, remember the $188,000 lawmakers sent to the Lobster Institute in Orono, Maine. Then there was the tidy sum to the pest-control industry in the form of $2.5 million to fight grasshoppers and Mormon crickets in Nevada and Utah; $223,000 to manage beavers in Raleigh, N.C.; $3.7 million to combat termites in New Orleans; $244,000 to conduct bee research in Weslaco, Texas.
Congress, which spends millions battling roaches and rodents in the Capitol, has a thing about bugs. It can't spend enough on them: $353,000 to battle the Asian long-horned beetle in Illinois; $234,000 to help an American laboratory in Montpellier, France fight the olive fruit fly; $113,000 to go after rodents in Arkansas.
This is just a sampling of the 11,331 "earmarks" (a 426 percent increase over last year) that this Congress snuck into its annual appropriations bills and accompanying reports for fiscal year 2008 -- nearly 10,000 of them in the omnibus bill alone. Want more?
-- $700,000 for a bike trail in Minnesota.
-- $200,000 for a post office museum in downtown Las Vegas.
-- $1 million for a river walk in Massachusetts.
-- $150,000 for the Louis Armstrong Museum in Queens, N.Y.
-- $200,000 for the Hunting and Fishing Museum in Pennsylvania.
-- $113,000 for rodent control in Alaska.
-- $4 million for a Beverly Hills veterans' park.
-- $37,000 for the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.
-- $8.8 million for the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium at Eastern Kentucky University.
-- $2.4 million for renovations in the Haddad Riverfront Park in Charleston, W.Va.
-- $250,000 for construction work at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center in Prosser, Wash.
-- $126,000 for the National First Ladies' Library in Canton, Ohio.
-- $10.4 million to the ProLogic company, a firm in West Virginia that is allegedly under federal investigation.