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Vol. 342 ,
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
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Earmarked Research By Any Other Name
21 June 2011 5:24 pm
Walter Pincus of The Washington Post illustrates today how members of the House of Representatives have proposed "programmatic requests" to sidestep the ban on earmarks in the 2012 military appropriations bill, now pending before the full House after the spending panel approved it last week. Many of them involve medical research, a popular topic for earmarkers in past Department of Defense spending bills.
But with the word now out of favor, lawmakers insist their latest bunch of targeted spending requests are not earmarks but rather simply guidance for Pentagon officials in making competitive grants in particular subject areas. From the Post story:
One of those added programs was $3.2 million for Bone Marrow Failure Disease research. Last month, Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) sent a letter to colleagues seeking support for the program that had first been earmarked in 2008. In boldface type it said: "The Bone Marrow Failure Disease Program is not an earmark. This request will be considered programmatic."
She also noted that "recent anecdotal data indicate that members of the armed services who were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan may have been exposed to environmental factors associated with these fatal diseases."
Another program on the committee-approved list is $5.1 million for Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Research. On May 2, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) sent an electronic message to her House colleagues. Labeled "This is a Programmatic Request," it asked members to support "a continuation of funding" for the research in the fiscal 2012 defense budget, saying that since 2002, about $35.9 million had been spent through this program. No connection to the military was mentioned.
The chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), has vowed to prevent such requests from being included in the final spending bill. Both parties earlier pledged to swear off earmarks for 2011 and 2012.