Pork Barrel Politics: Rivers and Harbors Legislation, 1947-1968

Pork Barrel Politics: Rivers and Harbors Legislation, 1947-1968

Pork Barrel Politics: Rivers and Harbors Legislation, 1947-1968

Pork Barrel Politics: Rivers and Harbors Legislation, 1947-1968

Excerpt

Every action taken in the House of Representatives is shaped by that body's structure of influence. -- Richard Fenno

In the late summer or early fall, the Conference Report on the Appropriations Bill for Public Works is considered on the floors of the House and Senate. This bill contains the annual appropriations for the Bureau of Reclamation, the Atomic Energy Commission, the various power administrations and river basin authorities, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers' civil construction program. In every recent year the Corps of Engineers' portion of the bill has contained funds for between 300 and 400 projects spread over perhaps 45 of the 50 states. Every year, too, the House and Senate between them have usually managed to add new Corps of Engineers projects to the public works section of the President's budget (which has lately totaled around one billion dollars), increasing it by about half a billion dollars.

The Public Works Appropriations Bills are criticized as "pork barrel legislation" by some and praised as "development bills" by others, but both groups appreciate the fact that these bills are made to a great extent in the Congress, principally in the various committees that share jurisdiction over the nation's rivers, beaches, lakes, and harbors, and that over the years they can fairly be said to constitute the policy of the federal government in the area of water resources development exclusive of water pollution legislation. Each year in the hearings before the appropriations committees and in the floor debates, the senior members of what might be called the water committees -- men like Senators Ellender, Cooper, Randolph, Stennis, and Magnuson, and Representatives Kirwan and Evins --

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