Norm Dicks (D, WA-06) cuts and runs.

This one must have hurt, really.  I mean: a guy spends over three and a half decades in Congress.  He’s carefully establish himself as a convenient… receptacle… for almost-respectable defense lobbyist payoffs.  And he’s just gotten the brass ring: next in line to his party’s top slot at Appropriations.  And in the last Congress? That spot was the Holy Grail for people who wanted to wet their beaks while serving their country.  This was, in other words, as close to being Norm Dicks’ moment as is allowable for people who are… like Norm Dicks.

Then it all went bad.  Because Norm Dicks soon discovered – like the rest of the Democratic party – that the reason why David Obey (the Appropriations chair in 2010) decided to retire was because Obey realized that he wasn’t going to be the Appropriations chair in 2011.  And thus it came to pass.  In the meantime, Norm Dicks got publicly mocked by libertarians.  The House duly flipped parties.  Dicks himself had his worst showing (admittedly, 58%) since 1994 and the second/third worst showing in his electoral history.

And then those miserable so-and-sos in the new House leadership banned earmarks.

Continue reading Norm Dicks (D, WA-06) cuts and runs.

Senate Budget Bill held up in Congress, delayed until Monday.

We may be at wafer-thin mint time.

Repeat: “may.” Congress has an impressive talent at somehow managing to find new and exciting ways to spend your money.

Senate bogs down over $410 billion spending bill

WASHINGTON – The Senate, tied up in a fight over a huge omnibus appropriations bill, will have to pass a stopgap spending measure Friday in order to avoid a partial government shutdown.


The huge, 1,132-page spending bill awards big increases to domestic programs and is stuffed with pet projects sought by lawmakers in both parties. The measure has an extraordinary reach, wrapping together nine spending bills to fund the annual operating budgets of every Cabinet department except for Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs.

The measure was written mostly over the course of last year, before projected deficits quadrupled and Obama’s economic recovery bill left many of the same spending accounts swimming in cash.

And, to the embarrassment of Obama — who promised during last year’s campaign to force Congress to curb its pork-barrel ways — the bill contains 7,991 pet projects totaling $5.5 billion, according to calculations by the GOP staff of the House Appropriations Committee.

Continue reading Senate Budget Bill held up in Congress, delayed until Monday.

Rep. Jeff Flake’s anti-earmark resolution up today.

As you know, it’s in response to the PMA meltdown/outrage (see here for some background posts):

Rep. Flake targets earmarks amidst PMA controversy
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), the House’s most vocal critic of pork barrel spending, is trying to shake the ethics committee into action on the link between earmarks and campaign contributors.

Flake has seized on the public corruption investigation of PMA Group, a once-powerful lobbying force that has disintegrated in the wake of an FBI probe into fraudulent campaign donations to numerous members of Congress.

In the past 24 hours, Flake has highlighted earmarks in the omnibus appropriations bill for PMA clients, written a scathing op-ed to The New York Times about Congress’s pay-to-play practices and offered a privileged resolution on the House floor that would force the House ethics panel to scrutinize the connection between earmarks and campaign cash and report back to the full body in two months.

Continue reading Rep. Jeff Flake’s anti-earmark resolution up today.