Why the Army Corps of Engineers can't prioritize spending: it's Congress' 24-hour pork buffet. The Washington Post looks at how federal water projects, and flood control projects in particular, are largely determined by which congresspeople are first in line for the pork.
"[M]ore than any other federal agency, the Corps is controlled by Congress; its $4.7 billion civil works budget consists almost entirely of "earmarks" inserted by individual legislators."
The Post asserts that there was no shortage of money appropriated to Louisiana for its water projects in recent years. Problem was, were those projects the right ones?
"But over the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large."
"Yesterday, congressional defenders of the Corps said they hoped the fallout from Hurricane Katrina would pave the way for billions of dollars of additional spending on water projects. Steve Ellis, a Corps critic with Taxpayers for Common Sense, called their push 'the legislative equivalent of looting.' "