|11:13 PM EDT||
Jeff Flake, R-AZ 6th
Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would remove $500,000 funding for the Innovative Science Learning Center at ScienceSouth in Florence, South Carolina, and reduce the overall cost of the bill by a commensurate amount.
According to its Web site, ScienceSouth is a nonprofit institution established in 2000 by educators and business leaders and seeks to advance scientific understanding and increase the competitiveness of future generations.
ScienceSouth offers programming for schools and families, as well as summer camp sessions, and currently offers hands-on science workshops at its newly opened ScienceSouth pavilion.
Additionally, ScienceSouth is planning to open a new permanent facility. It's unclear whether the Innovative Science Learning Center is connected to this. There's no mention of it in the ScienceSouth Web site, and my staff was unable to find any information on the center online. This project is likely connected to the growth of this institution. Perhaps we'll have clarification here.
Mr. Chairman, I agree with the sponsor of the project that ScienceSouth appears to offer a valuable service to the community. I appreciate efforts to make learning fun for families. I applaud ScienceSouth's decision to expand.
However, I have to question how essential it is that ScienceSouth receive Federal funding. According to the Web site, ScienceSouth counts DeLoitte and Touche, I guess, Honda, Wachovia, AT&T, Bank of America and many other as its sponsors. It's also received funding from the State legislature, and holds an annual gala to raise funds from private donors. Yet year after year, we see earmarks such as these approved by the House; and year after year, some of us try to come to the floor of this House
and ask why. Why do we continue to fund these projects?
We're often told that we're trying to wean them off Federal funding. Yet, that weaning never seems to be accomplished.
This year I'd also like to draw attention to the fact that earmarks like this exist because we have a pretty powerful spoils system. It favors powerful Members of Congress over just about everyone else.
With more than 1,000 earmarks in this bill, a full review and breakdown of earmarks was in tall order. However, you look at just a glance at one earmarked account in this bill, the COPS Law Enforcement and Technology account reveals that Members of the House leadership, appropriators, committee chairmen and ranking members are taking home more than 45 percent of the earmarked dollars in that account.
I wish I could say this was the exception to the rule. Unfortunately, it's not.
When you look at last year's Defense spending bill, for example, the same powerful Members took home 54 percent of the total earmarks contained in [Page: H6965]
the bill. I'd remind my colleagues that this subset of Members comprises only 25 percent of this body.
Mr. Chairman, I often hear that Members know their districts better than those faceless bureaucrats. I would think it would be a tough case to make that only Members of the Appropriations Committee, or only Members who are in leadership positions on both sides of the aisle, they just happen to know their districts a lot better than anybody else, than the rank-and-file Members. Else, why should they get nearly half of the earmarks when they comprise less than a quarter of the body?
I reserve the balance of my time.