Lawmakers push special projects in spending bill

Politics

(NewsNation) — Earmarks are back with a vengeance, after a decade-long ban expired in April, and Congress’ latest spending bill is packed full of pork.

The government will keep running through almost all of 2023 thanks to a $1.7 trillion funding bill that will expire at the end of September.

Highlights of the bipartisan bill include $858 billion in spending for the military, $119 billion for medical care for veterans, up 22% from previous funding, and also $45 billion in emergency assistance for Ukraine.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the deal on the Senate floor Thursday morning.

“We have an agreement now. We will vote on all of the amendments in order and then vote on the final passage,” he said.

But some Republicans have railed against the bill, even though not passing it or a different temporary measure before midnight on Friday would lead to a government shutdown.

“This is not paid for. This is going to run up the debt by another trillion dollars. We already have $31.5 trillion of debt right now. When are we going to say, you know what, there’s enough?” Florida Sen. Rick Scott asked.

The bill also includes a whole lot of what’s known pejoratively as pork or earmarks, often pet projects for members in their home states or districts.

This spending bill has $15 billion worth of pork from lawmakers in both parties. It ranges from the odd sounding, like $65 million for the restoration of Pacific salmon populations, to the controversial, like $2.3 million for outreach to borrowers who might be eligible for President Biden’s student debt relief program, which is currently on hold.

There are also some more traditional projects, like the $200 million secured for Alabama’s port authority.

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