Pork barrel spending

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Pork barrel spending is the use by a representative of federal funds to bring more money to local projects in his or her district. Common pork barrel projects include: public works projects and agricultural subsidies.[1]

Criteria for "pork"

In 1991, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Congressional Porkbusters Coalition developed seven criteria for a project to qualify as pork:

  • Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
  • Not specifically authorized;
  • Not competitively awarded;
  • Not requested by the President;
  • Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
  • Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
  • Serves only a local or special interest.[2]


Big Dig

An infamous example of pork-barrel spending is "Big Dig" in Boston, Massachusetts. A 3.5-mile section of highway was to be relocated underground. Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill (D-MA) directed funds from the federal government to the project. The project started the planning process in 1982, but was not completed until 2007. Although it was originally estimated to only cost $2.8 billion, The Big Dig ended up costing $14.6 billion from start to finish.[3]

Bridge to Nowhere

Commonly referred to as the "Bridge to Nowhere," the Gravina Island Bridge would have connected Ketchikan Alaska, to Gravina Island, Alaska. Gravina Island has a small international airport and around 50 residents. The bridge would have cost $398 million and was seen non-Alaskan residents as a symbol of pork barrel spending.[4]

Rep. Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens were advocates of the bridge in 2005 and 2006. It was never constructed. It became a campaign issue in 2008, with Alaskan Sarah Palin being the vice-presidential nominee.[4]

See also

Ballotpedia:Index of Terms

External links