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Tipsheet

Here's the Absurd Things Congress Wasted Your Tax Dollars On

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released its 2022 "Congressional Pig Book" on Wednesday, documenting all the porky waste of taxpayer dollars that result from earmarks from members of the House and Senate. In its report this year, CAGW "exposes 5,138 earmarks, an increase of 1,702.8 percent from the 285 in FY 2021, at a cost of $18.9 billion, an increase of 18.9 percent from the $15.9 billion in earmarks in FY 2021."

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Among the wasteful spending — most of which replicate existing infrastructure or would be unnecessary if institutions used their assets rather than forcing taxpayers to fund their projects — are some doozies. Such as $7 million worth of taxpayer dollars earmarked for the Army Corps of Engineers to work on "fish passage and fish screens" or the more than $31 million earmarked for presidential libraries by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) who appropriated $20 million for the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library and Roy Blunt (R-MO) who earmarked $11.5 million for the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. As the CAGW report notes:

The Grant library opened in November 2017 at a cost of $10 million, and was paid for by Mississippi taxpayers. The FY 2022 earmark, costing double the original amount and paid for by federal taxpayers, will support the relocation and construction of a new library. This makes about as much sense as hosting the victorious Union general’s library in the deep South.

Out in Colorado, Democrat Senator Michael Bennett earmarked a staggering $30 million for construction on a "fitness center" at an Air Force base in Colorado Springs, despite the city have more than two dozen gyms and there already being a facility on another nearby Air Force base. Somehow, Congress managed to spend more than $26.5 million on just 14 earmarks "funding bike paths" in Rhode Island, Nebraska, and California while another $20+ million was earmarked for museum exhibits in New York, Illinois, and California. 

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Additional highlights in government waste include:

  • Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) for $650,000 for feral swine management
  • Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who each got a $500,000 earmark for local theaters
  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) for $500,000 for preservation of the Nansen Ski Jump Historic Site in Milan, New Hampshire
  • Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) for $1,000,000 for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
  • Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) for $2,000,000 for the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas
  • Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) for $3,000,000 for the Palo Alto Museum for renovation of the Roth Building in a city with median household income of $174,003
  • Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) for $4,200,000 for the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station
  • $240,000,000 for modernization of the M1 Abrams, including $175,000,000 to upgrade 20 tanks, which the Pentagon opposes
  • Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) for $569,000 to remove derelict lobster pots from the Maritime Aquarium
  • Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) for $1,500,000 for the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia
  • Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) for $150,000 for an oyster aquaculture and restoration initiative at the Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit group with net assets of $7.9 billion
  • $1.9 million for three earmarks funding aquariums that have combined net assets of $144.7 million
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Clearly, there are earmarks going to organizations that don't need taxpayers' help and funding to places where the local community or better operations would make fleecing hardworking Americans unnecessary. Still, the bipartisan waste brought by earmarks continues. Read the full 2022 Pig Book here.

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