A U.S. Senator who was one of the most vocal critics of Alaska's so-called "bridge to nowhere" has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to
do a thorough review of congressional "earmarks."
Traditionally referred to as
"pork," earmarked describes line item spending that appears most commonly, but
not exclusively, in funding bills passed by Congress.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, wants the DOT to come up with a list
of the total number - and cost - of earmarks, as well as an assessment of their
impact on the department's transportation goals. It's complicated, but reports
place that number anywhere between 5,200 and 6,500 different earmarks,
amounting to as much as $24 billion.
Many in Congress were outraged last year when $223 million
in federal transportation funds were earmarked for a bridge from the Alaskan
mainland to the tiny island of Gravina, which has 50 inhabitants. Coburn and
others have pressed for what the media has tagged a shutdown of the "favor
John Hart, communications director for Coburn, told "Land
Line Now" that project as one that robs taxpayer dollars from other, more
"There are bridges that are crumbling all over the country,"
said Hart. "Every dollar that we divert to a bridge to nowhere, or a bridge
that might connect someone's private property to their state or another entity
that they have an interest in, is a dollar that can't fix a bridge that's about
to fall over."
Hart said Coburn plans to get reports on earmarks from all
departments of government, not just transportation.
- By Reed Black, staff writer