Robert Novak

McCain took the floor last Dec. 20, as he has so many times in the past, with an inattentive Senate prepared to pass a $458 billion Defense Appropriations Bill, including funds for the war in Iraq. "During a war, in a measure designed to give our fighting men and women the funds they need," said McCain, "the Congress has given in to its worst pork-barrel instincts." These were among the earmarks he pointed out:

 -- $3,850,000 for the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Foundation at Manhattan's Pier 86 on West 46th Street in New York City. The district is represented by liberal Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

 -- $4.4 million for a technology center at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo. This was included in $27.1 million earmarked for Southwest Missouri in this one bill by Acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt, who is running for the permanent leadership post.

 -- $500,000 for an outdoor grade-school teaching project ("Summer Science and Adventure Camp") in Boswell, Pa. The district is represented by Democratic Rep. John Murtha, who has become a leading critic of President Bush's Iraq policy.

 -- $500,000 for the Arctic Winter Games, an international sports competition on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Sen. Ted Stevens, president pro tem of the Senate and chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, determined this was a fitting expenditure for a military supply bill.

These are just samples of what McCain and Coburn want to force their colleagues to approve or disapprove. The other senators will hate that ordeal, but neither McCain in his four-term Senate career nor Coburn in his previous six years in the House has ever wanted to win a popularity contest. They can tell the other senators that if they want to avoid the embarrassment of voting on pork, they can stop earmarking.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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