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calling Earmarking “Article I” actions is putting lipstick on a pig

FAA uses well-established procedures to Prioritize Projects

National not local criteria with federal funds

Place-naming any project is a Zero Sum Game


Chairman DeFazio, a long term member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, has decided that “Article I” naming of airport projects to receive immediate AIP funding. “Earmarking” gets the proverbial “pig with lipstick” treatment by this Constitutional reference.


There is a far more responsible requirement to make this Article I action truly responsible.

The Chairman’s proposal, some responses thereto and the FAA prioritization precede a proposal on what a Member must be to claim priority for the local project over the national list.


Rep. DeFazio on Earmarks Ban: ‘Don’t Think We Need That Rule’

WASHINGTON — The next chairman of the transportation policy panel in the U.S. House of Representatives said the ban on earmarks the GOP imposed nearly a decade ago is no longer needed.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) told an audience at an event hosted by The Atlantic magazine on Dec. 5 the ban is “nonsensical” and said that, if properly applied, earmarks can be useful.

Prior to the ban, members of Congress often dedicated federal funds for specific projects in their districts. At times, earmarking allowed a lawmaker to bypass authorizing committees.

DeFazio will lead the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee beginning in January and acknowledged he has sought to reform the earmark process.

“Do we think that all of the wisdom on how to better serve the people of your district, of your state if you’re a senator, comes from [U.S.] DOT in D.C. or your state DOT? No,” DeFazio said.

“If we have a totally transparent process with people who are more accountable than the Secretary of Transportation, or more accountable than the bureaucrats who run your state agency, you might get some projects done that they’re ignoring,” he said.

Concerns raised by watchdog groups, academics and congressional observers about potential misappropriation of funds related to earmarks helped to convince Republican leaders to ban them after the 2010 Tea Party wave elections. Earmarking funds for Alaska’s “bridge to nowhere” — a project spearheaded by that state’s late Sen. Ted Stevens — brought the issue national exposure.



DEFAZIO TARGETING EARMARKS RETURN: House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) is planning to bring back earmarks — just don’t call them that, please. His language of choice is “Article I projects,” named after the article of the Constitution that established the legislative branch of the federal government.


Our Tanya Snyder reports that DeFazio said bringing back earmarks will help build support for a gas tax increase he says is needed to push through a surface infrastructure bill. “Why shouldn’t elected representatives, through a transparent process, be able to spend a small amount of money, bring it home, and show people what they’re going to get for a small increase in their gas tax?” he asked at a gathering of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials on Wednesday.

Rallying the troops: DeFazio told the state DOT officials he would need their help convincing members of Congress, so “go forth and beat ’em up.”

Citizens Against Government Waste Responds to Chairman Peter DeFazio’s Earmark Announcement

Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) President Tom Schatz responded to House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), who announced that he would formally bring back pork-barrel earmarks in order to pass a transportation bill in 2019. Chairman DeFazio was namedCAGW’s January 2019 Porker of the Month for his earlier support of earmarks.

CAGW President Tom Schatz issued the following statement:

“Chairman DeFazio’s statement is false, misleading, and disingenuous. Rebranding earmarks as ‘Article 1 projects’ insults the intelligence of the American people, who know that such expenditures are costly, inequitable, and corrupting. Earmarks have cost taxpayers $344.5 billion since 1991 and landed several members of Congress and lobbyists in prison. They are disproportionately doled out to members of the transportation and appropriations committees.

“Earmarks also cause members of Congress to vote for bills that they ordinarily would not support in exchange for a few million dollars in projects, a process akin to legalized bribery.

“Earmarks undermine higher priority projects and local initiatives. A 2007 Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General report found that, ‘earmarked projects considered by the agencies as low priority are being funded over higher priority, non-earmarked projects,’ and, ‘some earmarks are providing funds for projects that would otherwise be ineligible.’ For three DOT agencies, 99 percent of the earmarked projects ‘were not subject to the agencies’ review and selection processes or bypassed the states’ normal planning and programming processes.’


“Chairman DeFazio mentioned the constitutional power over ‘post roads’ in his statement. He neglected to add that Thomas Jefferson said that allowing members of Congress to make decisions on where such roads should be constructed will be ‘a scene of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get most who are meanest.’ James Monroe said that the power to spend money on infrastructure projects should be ‘limited to great national works only, since if it were unlimited it would be liable to abuse and might be productive of evil.’

“Earmarks have been and always will be a clear and dangerous abuse of the budget process. They are an affront to taxpayers and we will fight tooth and nail to eradicate them once and for all.”


How Congressional Earmarks and Pork-Barrel Spending Undermine State and Local Decisionmaking

Analysis of Discretionary Spending for Fiscal Years 1996-98

RCED-99-160R: Published: May 18, 1999. Publicly Released: May 28, 1999.


Transportation Spending Under an Earmark Ban


How Does FAA Determine Which Projects Will Receive AIP Funds?

Because the demand for AIP funds exceeds the availability, FAA bases distribution of these funds on present national priorities and objectives. AIP funds are typically first apportioned into major entitlement categories such as primary, cargo, and general aviation. Remaining funds are distributed to a discretionary fund. Set-aside projects (airport noise and the Military Airport Program) receive first attention from this discretionary distribution. The remaining funds are true discretionary funds that are distributed according to a national prioritization formula.


FAA’s website includes very visible, easily understandable, lengthy list of guidance for funding of AIP and how those Federal Funds are carefully husbanded by the “bureaucrats.” See here:

Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP)



Benefit-Cost Analyses (BCAs) help identify proposed projects that will provide a net benefit to the aviation community. We require BCAs for all capacity projects that require more than $10 million in AIP discretionary funds but can request them for less costly projects, as well.

Airport Benefit-Cost Analysis Guidance

Additional BCA Guidance


Mr. Chairman, hopefully your staff will acquaint you with the existing FAA precise policies and procedures which PRIORITIZE AIP funding based on what is best for the Nation’s Air Transportation System. The PFC program allows each airport to direct these local taxes for local uses.

If, however, there is a need for your Members to exercise their Article I powers, the responsible was to do so is to recognize that EARMARKING has “zero sum” consequences.

So Mr. Chairman, the responsible exercise of Article I powers, of Members deciding that AIP dollars should be spent in their Congressional District SHOULD INSERT THEIR PRIORITY INTO THE EXISTING LIST OF AIP PROJECTS FOUND TO MERIT FUNDING BASED ON NATIONAL PRIORITIES.

Prior to an FAA bill being considered, those “unaccountable bureaucrats” will submit their existing table like this (the paper already exists):


So the Member from Arkansas (hypothetically) can request that the Southwestern Arkansas Airport runway extension be inserted at #5 with #6-100 having their likelihood of funding reduced by the SAA request. Responsibility in Article I proposals,if adopted, The Representative from Arkansas would lead to some very interesting conversations in the Members from FL, TX ,etc..



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  1. Melvin Allen | March 4, 2019 at 7:38 pm | Reply

    sourcewatch.org:Citizens Against Government Waste is a right-wing front for oligarchs. CAGW calls itself a Human Rights and Civil Rights organization. That may be true. Earmarks are terrible, but CAGW is not the best validation.

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