WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) its April 2011 Porker of the Month for threatening to bring the Senate to a standstill over a $40,000 earmark for a federal study on deepening the port of Charleston. The study would investigate the effectiveness of deepening the port from 47 feet to 50 feet, an improvement that Sen. Graham claims will allow it to accommodate the types of ships that will “dominate shipping lanes” in the future. The earmark began as a $400,000 request that was rejected by the Senate Appropriations Committee in October, 2010. There was also no money for the project in the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget. Sen. Graham reduced his request to $40,000, but even that amount was not included in Congress’s FY 2011 Continuing Resolution.
On April 11, 2011, Sen. Graham threw a fit over the failure to fund the project, telling reporters that he would “tie the Senate in knots” until the port study money was approved. On April 12, he tweeted, “No nominations go forward in Senate until we address CHS port.” Unfortunately, the tantrum paid off. Despite Congress’s ongoing earmark moratorium, on April 15 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledged on the Senate floor that he would find funding for the study before the end of FY 2011. Sen. Reid stated that the money would “not be limited to South Carolina,” since Charleston is just one of 12 eligible recipient cities, but Sen. Graham was satisfied enough to stop his protest, indicating that he knows full well where the cash will land. The deepening of Charleston’s port is expected to cost $350 million.
The senator from South Carolina is no stranger to pork-barrel spending. His earmark requests totaled $78.9 million in FY 2010 and $126 million in FY 2009. Sen. Graham has claimed through his website that “260,800 jobs, $11.8 billion in wages, and $1.5 billion in state and local taxes” hinge on the Port of Charleston’s improvements.
“This project and the study it requires both reek of pork,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “If the benefits to South Carolina even approach the numbers cited by Sen. Graham, private backers and the state government should be chomping at the bit to fund it themselves. Instead, taxpayers everywhere will pay for a study, the results of which are a foregone conclusion – it will prove the importance of upgrading the port and cost taxpayers much more money.
“If each of the 260,800 people whose jobs supposedly depend on the port deepening were to contribute just 19 cents apiece, the study would be funded in full. There is absolutely no reason that taxpayers in places like Omaha or Denver should be forced to finance Charleston’s port,” concluded Schatz.
For insisting that federal taxpayers deep-six their dollars into a project that should be funded by the state and the private sector, CAGW names Sen. Lindsey Graham its April 2011 Porker of the Month.
Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government. Porker of the Month is a dubious honor given to lawmakers, government officials, and political candidates who have shown a blatant disregard for the interests of taxpayers.