Charlie Wilson’s War FY’08: New Defense Authorization Bill’s 1,168 Earmarks

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Good government group, Taxpayers for Common Sense‘ Laura Peterson writes, “With all the fuss about Bush putting the brakes on the 2008 defense authorization bill, which the Senate passed for the second time on Tuesday, one could almost forget about all the money the bill potentially contains. Authorization bills are intended to lay policy foundations for an agency, while the appropriations bills lay out the cash. Yet authorizations still contain earmarks—1,168 in this particular case, way more than the House version’s 449 and the Senate’s 309 combined. Even if authorization bills are passed after appropriations, as DoD’s was this year, authorization earmarks are worth tracking because they often crop up as programs in the following years’ budget request or pork added to future spending bills.

“Though we have not yet been able to database all the earmarks in the authorization conference report (you can see the House and Senate versions here) I have picked through them to ferret out ‘airdrops,’ meaning earmarks not included in previous versions. Some notable items:

An undisclosed earmark for a $26 million study of an “upper-tier missile program” that fell out of the House defense appropriations bill was resurrected by Sens. Trent Lott (R-MS) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as a $10 million earmark.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) attached $17.3 million for an aircraft maintenance hangar at the Yeager Air National Guard installation and another $12 million for runway work at Shepherd Field in Martinsburg. The Shepherd Field runway is being expanded to accommodate a new C-5 Galaxy aircraft.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) added $1.5 million for a dining facility at Eglin Air Force Base outside Valparaiso, Florida.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) inserted $1.4 million for an Alaska National Guard readiness center in the town of Kanai.

Several military construction earmarks that went undisclosed in the Senate version of the bill found backers: Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) got $4.8 million for a blood donor facility at Fort Bragg, Inhofe added $3.3 million for a multi-purpose machine gun range at Fort Sill, and senators including Kit Bond (R-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) added more than $35 million for five child development centers at military bases in their districts.

“More to come,” says Peterson.

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In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

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