CCAGW Slams $388 Billion Omnibus Bill Citizens Against Government Waste Congress stuffed the bill with pork, Schatz says (Washington, D.C.) - The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) today criticized Congress for passing an omnibus spending package that funds nine of the 13 fiscal year 2005 appropriations bills. The $388 billion 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Act is temporarily being held up after members of Congress expressed outrage over the discovery of an obscure line in the 1,690-page bill that would give the chairmen of the Appropriations Committees and their staff assistants the authority to access the income tax returns of any American. Republican leaders promised to delete the provision in a special session on Wednesday. President Bush announced his intention to sign the final bill once the provision is removed. This bill confirms that the appropriations process is broken, CCAGW President Tom Schatz said. The complex spending package was made available to members of Congress only hours before the vote. The invasive IRS measure is typical of last-minute additions to spending bills. Taxpayers have little to be thankful for, as members of Congress have helped themselves to the whole hog on this Thanksgiving. While lawmakers and President Bush lauded the omnibus for holding domestic spending, excluding defense and foreign aid, members of Congress showed no restraint in their hunger for pork-barrel projects. The thousands of earmarks lurking in the bill include: $3.5 million for bus acquisition in Atlanta, Ga.; $2 million for kitchen relocation in Fairbanks North Star Borough in Fairbanks, Alaska; $1.5 million for a demonstration project to transport naturally chilled water from Lake Ontario to Lake Onondaga; $500,000 for the Kincaid Park Soccer and Nordic Ski Center in Anchorage, Alaska; $250,000 for the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn.; $200,000 for Fenton Street Village pedestrian linkages in Montgomery Co., Md.; $100,000 for a municipal swimming pool in Ottawa, Kan.; $80,000 for the San Diego Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center; $75,000 for the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame in Appleton, Wis.; $35,000 for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame; and $25,000 for fitness equipment for the YMCA in Bradford County, Pa. The fiscal 2005 federal budget is stingy only in a relative sense, Schatz continued. If Congress is truly tightening its belt, then why was it necessary to increase the debt ceiling by $800 billion? There is little purpose to a debt ceiling that can be arbitrarily raised to accommodate the congressional appetite for pork. The boasting over this bill shows that Congress is a long way from passing a truly balanced budget. The domestic discretionary spending cited by congressional leaders represents only one-seventh of the total $2.3 trillion federal budget. The administration plans to halve the deficit over five years, but during that time and even after the baby boomers begin to retire, the national debt will continue to rise. If Congress cannot make the easy decisions by eliminating unnecessary earmarks, like $200,000 for the Aviation Hall of Fame or $100,000 for the Punxsutawney Weather Museum, there is very little hope for social security or tax reform, Schatz concluded. Deeper cuts must be sought in the federal budget to prevent a fiscal disaster. A critical part of rooting out wasteful and unnecessary spending is to consider and debate appropriations bills separately, in a timely manner, in order to avoid resorting to a pork-filled omnibus. The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation's largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.