WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) its September 2017 Porker of the Month for earmarking $900 million for a massive transportation boondoggle.
On September 14, 2017, the House approved H.R. 3354, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, which included $17.8 billion for the Department of Transportation. The bill contained a $900 million earmark for the Gateway infrastructure project, inserted by Chairman Frelinghuysen.
The Gateway project consists of a series of “strategic rail infrastructure improvements designed to improve current services and create new capacity that will allow the doubling of passenger trains running under the Hudson River” from Newark, New Jersey, to New York City.
Similar to projects like The Big Dig in Boston, the Gateway project’s costs are growing rapidly. The current $29.1 billion cost estimate has increased by $5.1 billion (21 percent) from an earlier estimate of $23.9 billion. That amount will undoubtedly continue to grow, and could reach astronomical levels if the tunnel is built past New York City’s Penn Station to Long Island, as some proponents are recommending. The tunnel portion of the project was already cancelled once by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) in 2010 because it was, “just not a financially viable project.”
Of the $900 million earmark, $500 million will come from the termination of the wasteful Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program and $400 million will come from the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grant program. The $400 million that Chairman Frelinghuysen earmarked from the Good Repair account was 19 times greater than President Trump’s budget request of $26 million.
CAGW President Tom Schatz said in a statement: “Chairman Frelinghuysen’s end-run around the budget process to fund a cost-prohibitive local project is exactly why Congress should enact a permanent earmark ban. The best way to avoid wasteful infrastructure boondoggles is to provide the same scrutiny to every taxpayer dollar before it is spent.”
For abusing the appropriations process to earmark a wasteful project, CAGW names Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen its September 2017 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.