Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is a “self-professed fiscal conservative” who often rails against government spending and the supposed fiscally imprudent policies of his progressive opponents. He recently put out a statement that said, “Washington must put its fiscal house in order. American taxpayers are rightly infuriated by the federal government’s disregard for the same economic principles that govern every household and business budget.”
Yet when it comes to pork barrel spending for his home state, he is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to waste taxpayers’ money. The Chicago Tribune reports today that a provision Shelby inserted into the 2010 budget that has survived both recent continuing resolutions is costing taxpayers more than a million dollars every single day. The “Shelby provision,” as it is called, forces NASA to spend $1.4 million daily on the Constellation moon program, which it already canceled and doesn’t even want:
Congress has again failed to rid a temporary spending bill of language forcing NASA to waste $1.4 million a day on its defunct Constellation moon program. [...]
This so-called “Shelby provision” — named for U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, who inserted it into the 2010 budget — is expected to cost NASA roughly $29 million during the three-week budget extension through April 8. It has already cost the agency nearly $250 million since Oct. 1.
Unfortunately, this isn’t Shelby’s only act of defending his home state’s pork. He previously forced NASA to spend $500 million on the Ares 1 shuttle program, which was also canceled by the agency and considered defunct.
This comes at a time when Shelby and his Republican colleagues are voting to cut billions of dollars out of Pell Grants, slash funding for community health centers, send thousands of veterans into homelessness, force the firings of tens of thousands of teachers, gut funding for cancer research and the National Institute of Health, and de-fund public broadcasting. It appears that Shelby is intent on cutting spending as long as it hurts Main Street Americans, but not if it sacrifices his pork barrel and thus electoral interests.