Watchdog group reveals that “Squad” members took millions in earmarks since last year

Earmarks are designed to funnel funding to various lawmakers so they can pay for services in their jurisdictions.

However, these earmarks always come at the expense of the American taxpayer, whether they agree with them or not.

And a watchdog group has revealed that some progressive “Squad” members snagged millions of dollars in earmarks since just last year alone.

Squad members take almost $220 million in earmarks

Progressive Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) are just some of the “squad” members who grabbed over $220 million worth of earmarks slipped into spending bills since the start of fiscal year 2023.

A new report from the watchdog group OpenTheBooks.com stated, “These eight members, up from 6 last year, have put almost $220 million worth of earmarks into the last two years of congressional spending packages, for causes like environmental justice, diversity, and immigration assistance.”

The group said that “each member of the House of Representatives can request up to 15 earmarks,” which means 8 members could ask for up to 120 earmarks per appropriations package proposed every year.

According to the group’s analysis, the “squad” members grabbed 108 earmarks during that time, and “The first six of 12 bills that will fund the federal government this year contained 6,582 earmarks worth $13.78 billion, split almost evenly down party lines. In 2023, the 12 bills were stuffed with 7,510 earmarks worth just over $16 billion.”

The group also said that earmarks were banned for 10 years “because of concerns they could fund waste and corruption, but both Democrats and Republicans have reinstated the practice in recent years with separate votes.”

One of the squad’s earmarks snagged $850,000 for a community center near George Floyd Square in Omar’s district to help create more jobs because Floyd’s death “added to the stress faced by the community and increased the need for support and stability in housing and commerce.”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) got $1.7 million for a “Green Tech Park” in his district for a group dedicated to helping “marginalized communities in preparing for climate change’s adverse effects.”

And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) signed off on a $500,000 earmark for “Queens Oysters” which plans to build an oyster reef to “address long-standing environmental justice inequities facing underrepresented communities in Queens.”

AOC also sponsored a separate $1.2 million earmark for the Muslim Women’s Community Center in her district to purchase a “three-story community center for the International Muslim Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment.”

The earmarks continued 

Another earmark sponsored by Rep. Greg Cesar (D-TX) for $1 million will go to the San Antonio College Empowerment Center, which has an “Undocumented Student Support Program” that allegedly helps undocumented immigrants with the college enrollment process.

The watchdog group said they haven’t fully analyzed the $1.2 trillion spending package President Biden just signed, but they estimate that the squad accounts for approximately $3.5 million in earmarks for that legislation alone.

Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky continue to speak out in favor of restoring the ban on earmarks.

Paul, speaking on the Senate floor, said that these earmarks are “leading to generalized inflation” and are “ignoring the general welfare clause, which means that spending and taxation is supposed to help everyone equally.”

Stay tuned to Blue State Blues for any updates to this ongoing story. 

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