‘The Bridge to Nowhere’ and 17 Other Notorious Congressional Earmarks

President Trump thinks allowing money for pet projects will ease congressional gridlock. Maybe, but the practice sparks memories of classic examples of government waste.

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Your town may soon get a financial shot in the arm if once-reviled congressional earmarks make a return, courtesy of President Donald Trump and Congress.

Earmarks, criticized as pork-barrel politics but popular with lawmakers who divert federal funds to pet projects on their home turf, started falling out of favor around 2005 after congressional watchdogs continually hammered them as debt-boosting waste.

They also sparked bad behavior. Lawmakers were accused slipping earmarks into legislation as favors to big campaign donors. One, Rep. Duke Cunningham, R-Calif., even went to jail after pleading guilty in 2006 for taking bribes to get earmarks for defense contractors.

But deal-maker Trump says earmarks could be useful for ending gridlock. Lawmakers won’t vote against bills that include money for their hometown projects, he argues. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., agreed that earmarks are at least worth talking about.

Members of Congress have used earmarks to garner money for projects as diverse as a bridge to nowhere, community theater makeovers and even a teapot museum. Here’s a look at 18 notorious earmarks, up until they were banned in 2011.


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