The new $1.5 trillion spending bill signed by President Joe Biden this week includes more than $265 million in special appropriations — or earmarks — secured for projects and programs in the state.
“It’s an exciting time,” Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt said, “And I’ve been proud to advocate for Missouri-focused federal investments that will allow our state to leverage our central location, our top research institutions, and our public-private partnerships to create new opportunities for people to raise families and build their careers where we live.”
Earmarks are a way for lawmakers to obtain funding for projects or programs in their districts without going through the normal appropriations process.
Congress stopped the earmarking process in 2011, because of scandals tied to some of the funding, but Democrats revived the appropriations last year with reforms to provide more oversight of the process. The new earmarks were included in the $1.5 trillion spending bill that will fund the government through September.
Sen. Josh Hawley, who last year was among a group senators opposed to bringing earmarks back, did notsubmit any earmarks for consideration.
Conversely, Missouri’s other Republican senator, Sen. Blunt was among the top 3 lawmakers in the country to take home the most federal funding from the spending package for state projects. Blunt, who is not seeking re-election in 2022, secured $181 million alone through the normal appropriations process.
While Blunt proudly publicized which state projects he’d helped secure funding for, he did not advocate for the earmarking process.
“I am pleased that this funding package reflects Missouri’s priorities, I am disappointed we were not able to pass the bill through the regular appropriations process,” he said. “Every member should have the opportunity to debate funding legislation and ensure that we are spending taxpayer dollars on programs that will have the most benefit for the most people.”
On the list of the investments Blunt secured for Missouri was $11.5 million for the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum and $1.5 million for improving and expanding training for students at Southeast Missouri State University Law Enforcement Academy.
Appropriations tied to Blunt also include $2 million that will go to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. They will use the money to fund the creation of a mobile intensive care unit. The senator explained that the unit will serve patients, ranging from pre-term infants to adults, so they will have access to critical care during their transport to the hospital.
Rep. Cori Bush, who represents residents of St. Louis in the House, said that she helped secure $9 million in direct federal funding for local initiatives in St. Louis.
“This critical funding will touch the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people across the St. Louis region,” said Bush. “We delivered millions in funding for organizations that are doing work for the community, in the community.
Bush, a Democrat, said that all 10 of the earmarks she submitted for consideration were accepted and were included in the spending package. The majority of her requests were for funds that will be used on Health care based projects.
Among the community project initiatives Bush advocated for was $2 million for Affinia Healthcare for the construction and operate a new community health center in Ferguson, $ 1 million for CareSTL Health in St.Louis to transform an abandoned property into a new health center in St. Louis and $1.3 million for the Healthcare-based Crime Intervention Clinic in St. Louis. The money for the crime intervention clinic will be used at the Assisted Recovery Centers of America in St. Louis and fund mental health and substance use treatment that supports diversion from the criminal legal system.