From Water Taxis to Fish Food, GOP Highlights Worst Pork-Barrel Projects

Fish food in Missouri. Bicycle racks in wealthy Georgetown. Water taxis to "nowhere" in Connecticut.

These are among the 11 most wasteful spending projects before Congress this year, according to two Republican congressmen -- who with their party have kept up the drumbeat this week against what they say is excessive federal spending.

The attention on pork comes as Congress prepares to raise the federal debt ceiling while pushing a new jobs-creation package that could run into the hundreds of billions. On Wednesday, four Republican lawmakers demanded an audit of the $787 billion stimulus program following reports of exaggerated or inaccurate accounts of the number of jobs created.

On Thursday, Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., rolled out their list of what they call the 11 worst pork-barrel projects of the 111th Congress. Most of them have already been approved for funding.

"With wasteful practices like earmarks and bloated federal programs, it's easy to see how we got to this point," Kirk said in a statement, noting the national debt just reached $12 trillion.

More On This...

    Here is the list:

    -- $1.9 million for "water taxis to nowhere" in Pleasure Beach, Conn. Congress approved the money after a fire destroyed the bridge to Pleasure Beach, but the area already is accessible by foot and rowboats.

    -- $3.8 million for an urban art trail in Rochester, N.Y.

    -- $3.1 million for upgrades to a boat owned by the New York State Museum. The boat dates back to 1921 and was originally used in canals.

    -- $3 million for bicycle racks in Georgetown -- the Washington, D.C., neighborhood that is one of the wealthiest areas in the country.

    -- $1.5 million to improve the streetscape in the six blocks surrounding a downtown Detroit casino.

    -- $578,000 for fighting homelessness in Union, N.Y. According to a local news report, the town never asked for the stimulus money and did not even have a program through which to administer the money. The town supervisor said he wasn't aware of a homelessness problem in the town.

    -- $550,000 for a skateboard park in Pawtucket, R.I.

    -- $500,000 for fish food in Missouri, to help defray the costs for state fish farmers.

    -- $400,000 for renovations to a vacant building in City of Jal, N.M.

    -- $380,350 to encourage landowners in West Virginia to grow shiitake mushrooms and ginseng.

    -- $90,000 for a communal kitchen in Watsonville, Calif. The shared kitchen is meant to help food service entrepreneurs.