Arizona’s GOP senator John McCain has been fuming over the $7.7 billion worth of earmarks hidden in the nooks and crannies of a $410 billion spending bill that started in the House and was making its way through the Senate. He tried but failed on a 63–32 vote to remove more than 8500 earmarks for fellow lawmakers’ pet projects from the bill. But then, late last week, Democrats failed to come up with enough votes to push the final bill through the Senate, leaving open the question of whether some of the pork might eventually be stripped from the legislation.
So what goodies may be bound for San Diego? A Washington group called Taxpayers for Common Sense has assembled a database of Congress’s pet spending. Way at the top of the list of local projects is $110,362,000 to pay for massive cost overruns on a federal courthouse downtown, the budget for which hit $368.7 million as of last month. That was sponsored by Susan Davis, fellow Democrat Bob Filner, and Republicans Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter. Then there is $1.35 million for the “San Diego and Imperial Counties Regional Communications System Upgrade,” thanks to all of the above plus Republican Brian Bilbray.
On his own, Bilbray earmarked $285,000 for “Encinitas Blvd/Interstate 5 Interchange Environmental Review” and $476,000 for a “public health information management system” for the county, along with $500,000 for “Coastal Field Data Collection: Southern California Beach Processes Study.”
Davis slipped in $95,000 for a group called Survivors of Torture International, to provide “medical, dental, psychological, and social services to victims of torture.” She got the same amount for the Southern Sudanese Community Center to spend on “job counseling and training of at-risk youth” and sponsored “regional bus replacement” to the tune of $475,000; $428,000 was set aside for Family Health Centers of San Diego for facilities and equipment, says Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Filner sponsored $58,910,000 for the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry, along with $4,479,000 for the San Diego Area Water Reclamation Program.
Issa sponsored $142,500 for a French Valley Airport Feasibility Study and $238,000 for the MiraCosta College Foundation, to be devoted to “nursing programs, including career development.”