Rep. Jack Murtha does like those earmarks! Reports the Washington Post:
Tucked into the voluminous congressional plan for U.S. military spending next year is $160 million intended to help Mexico’s police buy U.S.-made first-responder radios.
It is a major purchase that one radio manufacturer got rolling, 12 members of Congress formally requested and a powerful defense appropriations chairman championed, according to records and congressional staff members. But details of the plan to pump Pentagon money into Mexico’s crime-fighting efforts are cloaked in vaguely worded language in the House defense bill. The program is one of many congressional requests in the measure, which also includes 1,080 projects worth $2.7 billion tacked on at lawmakers’ request.
The language in the $636 billion bill, which the House Appropriations defense subcommittee approved last week, discloses neither the specific purpose of the radio project nor the dozen lawmakers who asked Chairman John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) to include it.
Members of Congress are required under new rules to disclose all requests they make to direct federal money to pet projects, but the radio-buying program is not technically a congressionally directed “earmark.” Instead, according to the panel, the item is classified as “program support,” which means that the requesting lawmakers do not have to publicly claim it.
“It kind of makes a mockery of the disclosure requirements we have,” said Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a watchdog group. “They will disclose the little things, the $1 million projects, but when you have the big-ticket items, you don’t have members willing to take responsibility for those.”
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