Senate Republicans’ ban on earmarks — money included in a bill by a lawmaker to benefit a home-state project or interest — was short-lived.
Only three days after GOP senators and senators-elect renounced earmarks, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the No. 2 Senate Republican, got himself a whopping $200 million to settle an Arizona Indian tribe’s water rights claim against the government.
Kyl slipped the measure into a larger bill sought by President Barack Obama and passed by the Senate on Friday to settle claims by black farmers and American Indians against the federal government.
Kyl’s office insists the senator’s earmark isn’t an earmark. It’s just a specific spending provision Kyl quietly inserted into an unrelated spending bill that would direct funds to people in his state.
And to think some would have the gall to call this an “earmark.”
The money for the 15,000-member White Mountain Apache Tribe was one of four tribal water rights claims totaling almost $570 million that was added to the $5 billion-plus bill. […]
The $200 million in Kyl’s measure would be used to construct and maintain a drinking water project on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, including a dam, reservoir, treatment plant and delivery pipelines.
Knowing almost nothing about this, Kyl’s earmark may be entirely worthwhile, and this may very well be money well spent. That’s not really the point — Kyl just threw his support to a sweeping moratorium on earmarks, which apparently didn’t quite last a week.
And the larger point is that we’re likely to see this quite a bit. Bradford Plumer explained recently that “the odds that this ban ever amounts to much are pretty slim,” given the fact that Senate Republicans are likely to keep doing exactly what Kyl did.