Bay Area Democrats try to bring home the pork

December 20, 2010 6:55:20 PM PST
Members of Congress have compiled their wish lists this holiday season. They turned in requests for a whopping $131 billion in funding for pet projects, also known as "pork."

Of the $131 billion, $1.8 billion in earmarks were requested by Bay Area members of the House of Representatives. And those requesting the most are by no means the most powerful.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has put in requests totaling $100 million, including $1.5 million to extend San Francisco's historic street car line all the way to Fort Mason. At $100 million, her wish list is smaller than most of the Bay Area members of Congress.

"These earmarks, this federally directed money, it should come home," xxx said.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, is asking for $110 million. She says the economy is the reason.

"We need money for job training, for job creation; when you look at our schools, we need money for our schools," she said.

At the very top of the list is Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, who is asking for $385 million. The biggest earmark in his wish list is $80 million for restoring salmon habitats.

Zeke Grader is a spokesperson for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. He says it would be better if funding for the salmon industry came though the regular appropriations process with hearings and a vote on the floor but that did not happen.

"The problem we've had frankly in the Congress, you watching it is that there's been a lot of people just trying to stop everything," Grader said.

Whether that is the reason or not, earmarks are up, particularly among Democrats. Of the $131 billion requested by Congress, 80 percent came from Democrats.

"I think the Democrats understand that you ask now or you never get to ask again," ABC7 political analyst Bruce Cain said.

Cain says the mood in Washington is turning decidedly against earmarks, particularly for Democrats in the House.

"They know starting next year it's going to be a lot harder; they're not to have control of the appropriations process," Cain said.

Cain says earmark funding will almost certainly go down.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, requested the least amount among Bay Area lawmakers with just $21 million in earmarks.

Bay Area members of Congress and the amount of money they have requested through earmarks for 2011:

  1. Mike Thompson $385 million
  2. Lynn Woolsey $262 million
  3. Jerry McNerney $187 million
  4. Zoe Lofgren $183 million
  5. Mike Honda $175 million
  6. Anna Eshoo $145 million
  7. John Garamendi $127 million
  8. Barbara Lee $110 million
  9. Nancy Pelosi $100 million
  10. George Miller $90 million
  11. Pete Stark $62 million
  12. Jackie Speier $21 Million


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