Charlie Wilson’s War FY’08: New Defense Authorization Bill’s 1,168 Earmarks

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Good government group, Taxpayers for Common Sense‘ Laura Peterson writes, “With all the fuss about Bush putting the brakes on the 2008 defense authorization bill, which the Senate passed for the second time on Tuesday, one could almost forget about all the money the bill potentially contains. Authorization bills are intended to lay policy foundations for an agency, while the appropriations bills lay out the cash. Yet authorizations still contain earmarks—1,168 in this particular case, way more than the House version’s 449 and the Senate’s 309 combined. Even if authorization bills are passed after appropriations, as DoD’s was this year, authorization earmarks are worth tracking because they often crop up as programs in the following years’ budget request or pork added to future spending bills.

“Though we have not yet been able to database all the earmarks in the authorization conference report (you can see the House and Senate versions here) I have picked through them to ferret out ‘airdrops,’ meaning earmarks not included in previous versions. Some notable items:

An undisclosed earmark for a $26 million study of an “upper-tier missile program” that fell out of the House defense appropriations bill was resurrected by Sens. Trent Lott (R-MS) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as a $10 million earmark.

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) attached $17.3 million for an aircraft maintenance hangar at the Yeager Air National Guard installation and another $12 million for runway work at Shepherd Field in Martinsburg. The Shepherd Field runway is being expanded to accommodate a new C-5 Galaxy aircraft.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) added $1.5 million for a dining facility at Eglin Air Force Base outside Valparaiso, Florida.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) inserted $1.4 million for an Alaska National Guard readiness center in the town of Kanai.

Several military construction earmarks that went undisclosed in the Senate version of the bill found backers: Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) got $4.8 million for a blood donor facility at Fort Bragg, Inhofe added $3.3 million for a multi-purpose machine gun range at Fort Sill, and senators including Kit Bond (R-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) added more than $35 million for five child development centers at military bases in their districts.

“More to come,” says Peterson.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend