U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal of Gainesville said his pledge not to earmark federal dollars for his district should not be taken as a sign that he is not looking out for the 9th District on Capitol Hill.
"What happens is, many times, this is money that is going back to your state under pre-approved formulas," Deal said. "If it’s highway money, it goes back to the state based on how much you get out of the federal gas tax."
Deal, along with fellow Georgia Republicans Tom Price, Paul Broun, John Linder and Lynn Westmoreland, has pledged not to use appropriations earmarks to channel what is often labeled as "pork" back to his district.
But they are among only 39 lawmakers who have made such a pact.
As the work on the appropriations bill begins, congressional leaders have set aside $18 billion for earmarks. Under an agreement, the earmarks are split 60 percent for Democrats and 40 percent for Republicans.
"We have said we would not submit appropriations earmark requests," Deal said. "That means we won’t ask for specific amounts of money to be specifically appropriated to a project. That practice has proliferated and has gotten out of hand."
Among those not pledged against earmarks are Georgia’s two U.S. senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, both Republicans.
Chambliss includes on his official Senate Web site a list of projects he wants funded in the fiscal year 2009 budget.
Among the projects is $662,308 for a diet assessment of high risk populations conducted by the National Peanut Research Lab, the Peanut Institute, Morehouse Medical School and the city of Plains.
The assessment would evaluate optimal diet patterns to help prevent diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
In our area, Chambliss asks for $2 million to widen Friendship Road from Interstate 985 to McEver Road, $392,000 for a streetscape project in Dahlonega and $660,000 for rehabilitation of a commercial sewer line in Dahlonega.
Chambliss’ largest request is for $497 million for an additional 24 F-22 Raptors, fighter jets made at Lockheed-Martin in Marietta with stealth, super cruise and integrated weapons capability.
Deal has submitted requests for authorization, without funding. Among those is the updating of the control manuals for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin.