Chuck Muth (Citizen Outreach: The Blog), in his 'News & Views' brief, has been keeping track of Sen. Tom Coburn's anti-pork efforts in the Senate.
Coburn had proposed several amendments to the Transportation Bill currently being debated.
One amendment was designed to halt spending on earmarks until deficient roads and bridges are repaired.
Another amendment would have eliminated federal spending on bike paths, arguing that federal transportation dollars shouldn't be spent on such local amenities before correcting deteriorating bridges.
A third amendment would have removed three specific earmarks from the bill:
* $500,000 for a new baseball stadium in Montana,
* $450,000 for the International Peace Garden in North Dakota,
* $400,000 to construct a "Discovery Center" for tourists in Louisiana.
Now, certainly these are not transportation projects and really don't belong in a transportation bill, if they need federal funding at all.
It failed, too.
On the third amendment, 32 senators (31 R's and 1 D) voted to remove these specific projects - which means about 1/3 of the senate agreed that such projects don't belong in the transportation bill.
On the second amendment, only 18 senators (all R's) indicated that they believe bike paths aren't as important as infrastructure.
On the first amendment, Coburn got only 14 senators (12 R's and 2 D's) to support prioritizing deficient bridge and road repair over their own self interests of pork projects.
As Muth says: "The problem is spending. The problem is Congress. The problem is...how do you stop them?"