Pass the Pork? Senate Amendments to the FY2013 Continuing Resolution

March 18, 2013

The Senate is expected to take up the fiscal year 2013 continuing resolution. (See our fact sheet on the bill here.) As it currently stands, the Senate bill is very similar to the House-passed bill. But with more than 90 amendments reportedly ready to be offered on the Senate floor, it might not be that way for long.

As Bankrupting America pointed out last week, the bill is already filled with some questionable spending items. Now, it seems senators are poised through the amendment process to add spending that would benefit their home states. For example:

  • More Funding For the Federal Aviation Administration. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., is seeking to prevent $45 billion to $50 billion in sequester spending cuts that would affect air traffic control towers in his home state. In a press release, Sen. Moran said, “My amendment to the CR to protect these contract towers is vital to aviation in rural America. I know firsthand the importance of maintaining commercial air service in communities across Kansas…”
  • Stopping Furloughs. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., have offered an amendment to add additional money for food safety inspections. The amendment could stop one-day-a-week furloughs of inspectors for the Food and Inspection Safety Service (FSIS), but will also benefit the senators’ districts. Politico explains, “With major meatpacking houses in both states, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas has teamed with his Republican neighbor, Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, to try to add $55 million to the current Senate bill to shore up the Food Safety and Inspection Service.” The senators would “pay for” the spending by reducing spending elsewhere, including for programs that helps schools buy equipment for breakfast programs.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says that the House will reject any “poison pills” added in the bill. According to National Journal, “Boehner has already warned that unless the Senate sends over a bill ‘that doesn’t have a lot of junk in it,’” the House won’t pass it.

While many of the amendments, like the ones above, will target programs that most Americans agree are important, the Senate’s amendment-palooza process reveals some dysfunction. Leadership will get to decide which amendments to pursue, increasing the likelihood that many of these amendments, while the may sound good, really only enable lawmakers to put in place policies that are favorable to their home districts.

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