The watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released its annual Congressional Pig Book on Wednesday, shedding light on the federal government’s pork-barrel spending.
Every year, CAGW releases its Pig Book listing federal government “pork” projects. The group defines a “pork” project as “a line-item in an appropriations bill that designates tax dollars for a specific purpose in circumvention of established budgetary procedures.” In order to meet the criteria to qualify as pork, a project must meet seven criteria.
In the 2018 Pig Book, CAGW cites 232 earmarks, marking a 42.3 percent increase from Fiscal Year 2017. The earmarks in question come to a total of $14.7 billion for FY 2018, over double the $6.8 billion from the year prior.
CAGW attributes much of the increase to the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2018, where spending was increased in nearly every category in order to get it passed by Congress.
“The FY 2018 earmarks were again contained in a consolidated appropriations package, which presents its own challenges regarding how the taxpayers’ money is being spent,” the Pig Book states. “Throwing all the earmarks into one large bill makes it more difficult to identify and eliminate the projects that if Congress adhered to regular order and considered the spending bills individually.”
The report also voices concerns with the inadequacy of an earmark moratorium, which was first applied in FY 2012.
Among the items mentioned in this year’s Pig Book are $6 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority, $65 million for Pacific coastal salmon recovery, nearly $2.7 billion for 20 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, $2.75 million for the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program, and $16.7 million for the East-West Center in Hawaii.
Members of both parties are responsible for the wasteful spending.
The debut of the Pig Book comes with an event on Capitol Hill where, this year, attendees were joined by Faye, a live pot-bellied pig from Richmond, Virginia.