CONGRESS said “No” when New York City’s police and firefighters wanted more money to fight terrorism — but said “Yes” to a study of tropical fish. The reason: Pork!

An ENQUIRER investigation found that a whopping $22.5 billion in pork-barrel spending was inserted at the last minute into the $390 billion 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. That’s more money than any previous year for pet pork-barrel projects, government spending watchdogs complained to The ENQUIRER.

With members of Congress loading up the budget with some 9,362 pork-barrel projects to benefit their home districts and states — as well as to help swing votes their way in the next election — bringing home the bacon has reached an all-time high!

“Because House members weren’t given the normal threeday time period to review the legislation, the Omnibus bill moved through Congress like a greased pig,” Pete Sepp, vice president of communications for the National Taxpayers Union, told The ENQUIRER.

“Too bad this pig eats tax dollars instead of slop! The $50,000 Congress provided to fight feral hogs in Missouri might have been better spent to fight fiscal hogs on Capitol Hill.”

Dubious awards in this monumental pork bill include:

  • $10 million to the Alaskan Seafood Marketing Board to promote wild salmon.
  • $4 million for the International Fertilizer Development Center.
  • $2.5 million to the Orangutan Foundation.
  • $1.8 million to study the life of algae in hot water.
  • $1 million for the development of the ShowMe Aquatic Center in Missouri.
  • $1 million for a DNA study of bears in Montana.
  • $500,000 for research on the health of catfish.
  • $500,000 for the International Coffee Organization.
  • $450,000 for a study of ornamental tropical fish in Hawaii.
  • $382,000 for multicolored scenic byways signs in Idaho.
  • $250,000 for dogsled trail improvement in Alaska.
  • $202,500 to build an arena for the National Peanut Festival in Alabama.
  • $180,000 to the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston, Maine, to promote the study of French culture in the region.
  • $90,000 to the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.

    Other lucky recipients include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Ohio, the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, the Big Bear Zoo in California, the Sea Otter Commission in Alaska and the National Cherry Festival in Michigan.

    “Unless there are some controls in place, we can have no confidence that tax dollars are being spent wisely,” said Sepp.

    “Taxpayers need to speak out now about the injustice of these payouts or the pork barrel will just keep rolling along.”

    Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) declared: “New York City is widely recognized as terrorist target No. 1 but the federal government denied more than $500 million in needed homeland security funds to the city’s police and fire departments.

    “Clearly there’s a problem of misplaced priorities.”

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has introduced a resolution, S. R. 173, in an effort to reduce pork, which would make it easier for senators to object to pork-barrel projects.

    “One thing Americans and taxpayers can do is encourage their senators to support Senator McCain’s resolution,” Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, told The ENQUIRER.

    “Phone, write or e-mail your senator or congressman and tell them to stop wasting money on pork-barrel projects.”