All Seven of Arizona’s Democratic Members of Congress Push for Earmarks, Republicans Don’t


Now that a 10-year ban on congressional earmarks has ended, all seven Democrats in Arizona’s congressional delegation are requesting them. None of the four Republican members are. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-07) wants to beautify light poles and several of the members want to expand public transit. Many of them are getting their requests approved as part of the $2.1 trillion infrastructure bill, which is expected to pass into law soon.

Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ-06) told The Arizona Sun Times Friday that the earmarks aren’t necessary, since they are for the types of projects local and state governments generally cover. Additionally, “A lot of these projects aren’t for fixing infrastructures like roads and bridges, they’re for bailing out bad government decisions in blue areas.” He noted that the infrastructure bill is loaded with items like this, and “basically half of the bill doesn’t even have the funding for it.” Schweikert said the reason he and his fellow Republicans in Arizona didn’t request any earmarks is that it’s a “wink, wink, nod, nod” sign you will support others’ earmarks.

Democrats nationwide asked for the majority of earmarks, 224 out of 332 lawmakers. Arizona Democrats got most of the earmarks they requested.

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) boasted about securing millions for renewable energy, $884.3 million for public transit, $100 million for internet access, and more for other projects. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) shared many of the requests with him.

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-02) asked for the most from the delegation, $13.7 million. Her requests included over $1 million for El Rio Santa Cruz Neighborhood Health Care, Inc. in Tucson for radiology and various other medical services. Another request was for $1 million for Pima County Community College.

Grijalva’s list contains mostly historic improvement projects and job training. He wants over $1.5 million to restore the City of Avondale’s Historic Old Town. This includes such things as beautifying light poles. “Beautification efforts include a $645,000-second component that includes the removal of 52 existing double mast arm decorative pedestrian light poles/fixtures along Western Avenue between Dysart Road and Central Avenue. In order to provide for a consistent style along the roadway, the current light poles will be replaced with single mast arm pedestrian light poles and fixtures like those used on Dysart Road north of Buckeye Road (MC85).” Another item he requested was $500,000 for JobPath Inc., which helps people find jobs.

Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ-09) asked for almost a million dollars to upgrade an intersection in the middle of Phoenix. He also wants $500,000 for the City of Tempe to distribute to new minority businesses. And he wants $300 million to “revitalize” downtown Mesa.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07) requested over a million dollars for the Arizona Hospitality Academy in Phoenix to help them create “a sustained pipeline of qualified employees.” He also asked for almost $1 million to fund an expansion of Terros McDowell Health Center in Phoenix.

Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01) asked for $1.4 million for Electric Bus Infrastructure in Flagstaff. He wants $2 million for a workforce training center in Superior. Another request, labeled “Snowflake Highway Cold‐In‐Place‐Recycle,” contains no details other than asking for $1.5 million in Concho. Similarly, there is an $8 million request for Lone Tree Road in Flagstaff with no details. There are a couple more items like that, including an expansion of public transit.

There are some limitations on earmarks now. Members cannot request more than 10 items, and the amount must not total more than 1 percent of the discretionary spending in the total budget. Members must list their requests on their websites along with a statement disclaiming any benefit from the earmark.

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) issues an annual Congressional Pig Book exposing some of the worst earmarks. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-OH) and CAGW President highlighted a few of the worst earmark projects over the years, which were never even completed:

  • $398 million for The Bridge to Nowhere in Ketchikan, AK
  • $273,000 to study Goth culture in Blue Springs, MO
  • $500,000 for a teapot museum in Sparta, NC
  • $1 million for a Woodstock museum in Bethel, NY
  • $3.8 million to conserve Old Tiger Stadium in Detroit, MI

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at the Arizona Sun Times and The Star News NetworkFollow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].



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