Posts Tagged ‘Jerry Lewis’
May 5th, 2011 at 11:41 am
Congressman: Predator Drone a “Good” Earmark

At least one congressman is using the death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden to draw attention to what may sound like an oxymoron: a “good” earmark.

Former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) reminded reporters that it was his decision to dramatically increase funding for predator drones – the unmanned airplanes directed to kill targets halfway around the world.

Previously used only for clandestine or “black ops” missions, the U.S. Air Force was in the process of developing unmanned spy drones for expanded military use in the early 1990s, but Lewis felt the process had been moving too slowly.

From his seat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Lewis, who later rose to the chairmanship of the full committee, attached the funding boost and language requiring the Air Force to speed up development of the drones to a spending bill that ultimately became law.

In the years since, the program has become a staple in the United States’ intelligence-gathering efforts overseas and has been incorporated as a regular component of the Defense Department’s annual budget.

Predator drones weren’t responsible for killing bin Laden, but they are the Obama Administration’s favorite means for hunting terrorists.

Currently, House Republicans have banned the practice of earmarks like Lewis’ $400 million boost to the predator drone program.  When the policy gets revisited after the 2012 elections, it will be interesting to see if Lewis and others will be able to change their colleagues’ – and fiscally conservative voters’ – minds.

H/T: Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise