Big Spending Still A Big Draw On Capitol Hill

In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a second full moon for the month of July rises behind the dome of the U.S. Capitol on July 31, 2015 in Washington, DC. In recent years, people have been using the name Blue Moon for the second …
Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images

Who says bipartisanship is dead in Washington?

A massive $325 billion federal transportation bill passed overwhelmingly on Capitol Hill with strong support from both parties. The bill, which was not read or analyzed by most members of congress before they voted on it, is still being digested and analyzed by clean government organizations.

Mostly the bill shifted around money in a sort of shell game, moving funds from the “Sportfish Restoration and Boating” trust fund and the federal “Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund” to finance more road construction and repair. Leaders in the House and Senate,  including new speaker Paul Ryan, did hold the line and stopped advocates of increasing the gas tax from having their way.

Expectations are high that there will be plenty of pork in the bill. Federal highway bills have been a notorious avenue for politicians to funnel money to friends and allies. Powerful members of congress often push pet projects in their districts.

Most famously perhaps, then Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert put a $207 million federal earmark in the federal transportation bill to construct the “Prairie Parkway” in his state. Hastert,  who just happened to own real estate near the new roadway, made millions when he sold it.


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