From Peanut Research to Pig Waste, Pork-Laden Spending Bill Called a ‘Monstrosity’

By Patrick Goodenough | December 15, 2010 | 5:32 AM EST

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) delivered a stinging rebuke to Democrats in the Senate on Tuesday evening over an earmark-laden omnibus spending bill. (Screenshot: C-SPAN)

( – Senate Republicans gave notice Tuesday evening of their intention to force a reading of all 1,924 pages of a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill laden with more than 6,000 earmarks, a development anti-pork critics described as “shameful” and “outrageous.”

In a stinging speech on the Senate floor, Sen. John McCain listed some of earmarks incorporated into a bill which he said had been “written by a handful of senators who happen to be members of the Appropriations Committee.”  The bill reached his office just after noon on Tuesday.

Totaling nearly $8.3 billion, he said, the earmarks include $349,000 for swine waste management in North Carolina; $413,000 for peanut research in Alabama; $235,000 for noxious weed management in Nevada; and $300,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii.

Among many other destinations, funds also are directed to potato pest management in Wisconsin, maple syrup research in Vermont, and virus-free wine grapes in Washington state.

McCain said Senate Democrats had clearly not learned the lesson of the midterm election.

“The American people couldn’t have been more clear,” he said. “They’re tired of the wasteful spending, they’re tired of big government, they’re tired of sweetheart deals for special interest, and they’re tired of business as usual in Washington.”

“And they certainly are tired of massive bills just like this one – put together behind closed doors and rammed through the Congress at the last minute so that no-one has the opportunity to read them and no-one really knows what kind of waste is in them,” he added.

McCain said if Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid insisting to moving ahead with “this monstrosity,” Republicans would ensure that Americans are made aware of what it contains.

“I’ll be joined by many of my colleagues on this side of the aisle to ensure that every single word of this bill is read aloud here on the Senate floor.”

He urged Democrats to “rethink their strategy” – to drop the spending bill designed to fund the government through 2011 in favor of a continuing resolution that will keep the government operating for 45 days, enabling the next Congress to take up the matter in the new year.

Earlier Tuesday, Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell said he was “actively working to defeat” the spending bill, while incoming House Speaker Rep. John Boehner urged President Obama to oppose the measure and announce that he would veto it if passed.

“Obviously one of the things that has to be done before Congress leaves is how we’re going to pay for the operation of government going forward,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday in reply to a query about whether the administration had a strong view on an omnibus spending bill versus a continuing resolution.

Asked whether the White House was concerned that the lengthy omnibus bill “could gum up things a bit,” he responded, “No, I just think it means a lot of people will be up late reading between now and, say, the 22nd or 23rd.”

At a press conference Tuesday, Reid called the bill drafted by the Appropriations Committee “a very good piece of legislation.”

In his floor speech, McCain encouraged Americans to visit a Taxpayers Against Earmarks Web site,, “and make yourselves aware of how your elected officials seek to spend your money.”

Among other material the site features a “Heroes and Hooligans” scoreboard, listing on one hand those lawmakers “who, despite the public outcry over earmarks, refuse to stop requesting earmarks,” and on the other, those who have “(1) refrained from requesting any earmarks this year or (2) pledged to refrain from requesting earmarks in future years.”

The Senate list names 37 “heroes” – 31 Republicans and six Democrats; and 63 “hooligans” – 51 Democrats, 10 Republicans and two Independents. (Of the 10 GOP “hooligans,” eight are members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.)

In the House of Representatives, the site lists 180 “heroes” – 175 Republicans and five Democrats; and 257 “hooligans” – 253 Democrats and four Republicans.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow