It’s now the really hot, sticky part of the Southern summer. What is the old phrase, everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it? I think that can be applied to Congressional spending as well. Just about everyone wishes the Federal Congress would stop spending so much money, until it comes to a pet project they are concerned about.

The phrase that has hit the popular tongue in recent months is earmark. Simply put, this is the process where a member of Congress directly allocates funds to a project, rather than to allocate a lump sum to a Federal Executive department. Often times, the earmark process is used to allocate funds to projects that have little chance or desire to stand under the bright glare of committee or floor debate, since earmarks often only appear in reports rather than in the actual legislation itself, making them hard to spot, even harder to stop. For example, 3% or about $500 million of the Agriculture Department’s budget in 2005 went towards earmarks. The process has grown greatly over the past decade or so.

Congressman Jeff Flake of Arizona’s 6th district recently offered 19 House amendments tied to having 19 up or down votes on specific earmark projects. All 19 amendments failed to stop a single earmark proposal, usually by spectacular margins.

What the vote did accomplish was to flush out and differentiate the difference between those in the House looking either end the earmark practice or to at least examine and vote on hidden appropriations.

As a registered voter in South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District, I see that my Congressman, Bob Inglis, was only one of two (Gresham Barret being the other) to vote against all 19 earmark proposals. It is good to know that my Congressman is standing firm on excessive spending and is actively fighting the growth and the expansion of Federal spending, that doesn’t even see the light of day.

I was a bit surprised that SC’s other two GOP Congressman, only Henry Browne voted for two of Flake’s amendments total and Joe Wilson joined John Spratt and Jim Clyburn in voting against all 19.

HT: 435 Districts, 435 blogs against pork