FOX17: Inside Tennessee's Earmarks 16_FOX17_TN_earmarks

April 12, 2024 02:05 PM


1. What exactly are earmarks and how is the money being spent?


A: Earmarks are often called pork-barrel spending — it’s federal funding designated by Congress members for pet projects in their districts. Earmarks were banned for a decade due to abuse, and only recently returned in 2021 and many question whether they should have returned at all. Some members of Congress refuse to request them for their districts.


In Tennessee, there are 67 earmarks totaling $361 million, most of it is going to one massive project.


$237 million is going to the Army Corps of Engineers project to rebuild the Chickamauga navigation lock, or dam, on the Tennessee River in Hamilton County. The original lock was built in 1940 and needs to be rebuilt.


Other than that massive spending, the rest of the $123 million in earmarks are spread around the rest of the state in lots of highway projects, other infrastructure projects, police and other emergency spending, and more.


Davidson County is only getting $3 million for one projects – improvements to Donelson Commuter Rail Station. That earmark is from Congressman John Rose.


Davidson County is now split among three congressional districts — 5,6 and 7, and like many other Republicans and a few Democrats, Congressmen Mark Green and Andy Ogles didn’t request earmarks.





2. How does this compare to previous spending?


A: While earmarks for the whole state last year totaled $98 million– now it’s $360 million, Nashville got far more earmarks.


Last year, then Congressman John Cooper got numerous earmarks totaling $18 million for Nashville, for buildings on higher ed campuses, homeless veterans and health equipment and more.


After the 2020 Census, the lines of the 5th congressional district, once solidly Democratic, were redrawn as three districts, represented by three Republicans — Ogles, Rep. John Rose (6th CD) and Rep. Mark Green (7th CD).


These are just earmarks, these entities still get other federal funding throughout the year, so there’s lot of money being spread around and its all borrowed against our $34 trillion national debt.


There’s a reason the funding for these projects were banned for a decade and its not because America is flush with cash. It’s because its money we don’t have and it’s prone to abuse by members of Congress who award these earmarks to projects in their districts so their constituents view them favorably and re-elect them.



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