Congress has a way of passing spending bills, as well as relief legislation after natural disasters, that become glittering Christmas Trees over-loaded with billions of dollars of unnecessary spending put there to placate the wishes of special interests who have generously donated during the previous election cycles. This process not only leads to excessive wasteful spending, but it also corrupts the process and causes voters to become that much more cynical about politicians and politics in general.
After Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, and Hurricane Erma may strike land soon as well, there is no doubt Congress will be passing relief legislation for the millions of Americans hit by these disastrous storms. This is also time to sound a warning alarm about the risk of politicians in Washington D.C., who are ever ready to exploit a crisis, to take advantage of this legislative opportunity to fill these bills with an assortment of spending and other legislation to reward special interest and large campaign donors at taxpayers expense.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, and other conservatives in Congress, have been viciously attacked for opposing Hurricane Sandy relief back in 2012. Cruz and fellow conservatives opposed the measure due to the addition of extraneous pork barrel projects being added into the legislation. The Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress, issued a detailed report on the funding in the Hurricane Sandy Relief package and found that at least $15 billion of the $50.5 billion in the bill, or about 30 percent, was not related to Hurricane Sandy.
Taxpayers for Common Sense conducted a study of the bill, the results of which were published in National Review, which showed $150 million for fishery disaster areas in Mississippi and Alaska, $20,000 for a new car for the Inspector General of the Justice Department, $10.8 billion for the Federal Transportation Administration and cancellation of loans related to Hurricane Katrina, $4 million for repairs at the Kennedy Space Center (located in Florida), $3.3 million for the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, $150 million for fisheries on Alaska’s shoreline damaged by a 2011 Japanese tsunami, $2 million to fix an (apparently quite expensive) roof at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., and $13 billion for future flood reparations not related to Hurricane Sandy.
Republican members of Congress, doing the bidding for billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, have sought to enact into federal legislation a bill called the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), that would overturn the laws of all 50 states by placing a federal ban on Internet-based gambling. Members have sought repeatedly by sneaky and stealth means to quietly slip RAWA and similar legislative language into several major bills, including many must-pass spending bills.
The American people, who elected the current Republican majority to Congress, expect conservative in the House and Senate to stand true to principles and vigorously fight these efforts to load spending and relief bills with mountains of pork barrel spending for special interests and political donors. Conservatives have repeatedly, and with good reason, sounded the warning about the efforts of Sheldon Adelson and his lobbyist to attach his proposed federal Internet gambling ban to hurricane relief legislation or must-pass spending bills. The upcoming Hurricane Relief package is a perfect opportunity for large political donors to the GOP, such as Adelson, to cash in favors. Ted Cruz and other conservatives must stand strong in fighting this effort to insure RAWA doesn’t rear its ugly head.