Even though Senate Republicans only banned earmarks in a non-binding caucus pledge, you'd think they could've waited longer than three days to break it, right? And yet here comes $200 million for you, Arizona, thanks to Sen. Jon Kyl!
Kyl, the #2 Senate Republican, directed $200 million for an Arizona Indian tribe's water project — to construct "a dam, reservoir, treatment plant and delivery pipelines" — from a $5 billion bill settling claims for discriminated black farmers and swindled Indian tribes. Kyl's office claims this isn't technically an "earmark," presumably since it wasn't from some big departmental budget bill, and had something to do with Indians, but the AP disagrees:
Under Senate rules, an earmark is a spending item inserted "primarily at the request of a senator" that goes "to an entity, or (is) targeted to a specific state."
Earmarking allows lawmakers to steer federal spending to pet projects in their states and districts. Earmarks take many forms, including road projects, improvements to home district military bases, sewer projects, economic development projects. A key trait is that they are projects that haven't been sought by the administration in power.
Basically, this money was supposed to be doled out by the appropriate governmental office, not Jon Kyl.
Like we said, they'll always find a way to bring money back to their constituents, and having your office wage painful arguments about the technical definitions of "earmark" was predictably the first choice of recourse.
But remember: This small bit of corruption helped move a good (and overdue) bill through the Senate!
[Image of Jon Kyl via AP]