Oh, there is nothing like lifting the curtain in Congress, because it can spur all kinds of reaction from voters. That was proven again yesterday on anything related to Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
The dustup all began when I was searching for House Republicans who had earmarks in the $1.2 trillion Senate Omnibus budget bill that Democrats finally unveiled on Tuesday.
Most GOP lawmakers have refused to request earmarks, so it was interesting when I found four Republicans in the House who had gone against that: Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA), Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).
Paul had eight earmarks totaling around $8 million, so I sent out a message on Twitter that said:
“WELL WELL WELL – Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) has 8 earmarks worth over $8 million in Senate Omnibus budget bill.”
Judging by the reaction from Paul supporters, you might have thought that I had just publicly accused him of legislative corruption.
“Nice ‘drive-by’ attempt to smear Ron Paul,” wrote one person to me on Twitter.
“I am a little disappointed in your reporting on Paul’s earmarks,” wrote Jerry in an e-mail, who criticized me for Tweeting out my note on Paul without noting that Paul routinely asks for earmarks, but then votes against those bills.
I will let you determine if putting home state earmarks in bills and then voting against the legislation is okay. That’s not for me to rule on.
But it is still newsworthy when you realize that he’s one of only four GOP House members to have some home-state spending in this measure.
So, what does Rep. Paul have in this Senate Omnibus? Would you call any of this pork?
* $1 million for the “Gulf States Consumer Education Program”
* $1.5 million for “Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training” at Texas State University
* $2 million for the “Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program” run by Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
* $474,000 for an Army Corps of Engineers review of Freeport Harbor in Texas
* $897,000 for Army Corps work on the Matagorda Ship Channel in Texas
* $350,000 for a “Nursing Simulation Training Center” at Brazosport College in Texas
* $750,000 for a “Telehealth Resource Learning Center” at the Univ. of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston
* $1.25 million for “Port of Galveston Transit Terminal Parking” project
That’s almost $8 million on the nose for eight different projects.
Leave me a comment on these projects – are they a big deal? Is it something that no reporter should worry about?
As for the overall Omnibus, it still is not officially on the floor in the Senate, as Senators are working now on the START nuclear arms treaty with Russia.
It won’t surprise me to see a test vote on the Omnibus set for the weekend. We’ll see then if Democrats can bring over enough Republicans and get 60 votes on the measure.