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Earmarks may be dead, but pet projects live on

Despite a three-year-old ban on earmarks, members of Congress have found ways to bring home the bacon.

Two spending authorization bills Congress will take up this week, one dealing with water projects and the other the nation's defense needs, include provisions allowing lawmakers to proudly take credit for bringing the potential for government spending in their districts.

Republican lawmakers have stressed that the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which authorizes $8.2 billion in spending, and the $600.1 billion defense authorization legislation, are completely free of earmarks, or line-item spending directly linked to a specific lawmaker.

And because neither bill is an appropriations measure, passage of the legislation doesn’t guarantee any particular project will be funded.

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