Democrats are earmarking millions of dollars in the forthcoming spending bill for unique projects that are meant to promote social justice goals varying from equality in education to access to preventative healthcare to diversity in public arts projects. The move is being crashed by Republicans as "the currency by which the leadership buys votes."
A recent investigation revealed Democrats' applications have tried to fund "social equity" programs on race, gender and education.
Among the demands:
$1 million for a "cultural placemaking" action meant to celebrate the history and culture of Black Los Angeles by Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif. The project is defined as an "innovative 1.3-mile public/private streetscape improvement" to celebrate Black culture.
In Wisconsin, Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan is requesting $1 million to plan and form a 55,000-square-foot space for Black enterprise, art, history, performance and culture.
Illinois Democrat Rep. Cheri Bustos requested $750,000 to build a "Youth Equity Center" that would help children approach the "necessary social determinants of health to be successful."
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., is asking for $742,000 for a program that will present a space for "inclusion and healthy discussions around difficult issues such as racism, gender discrimination and cultural bias."
Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D-N.J., earmarked $1.1 million for a "Center for Child and Human Development" that would introduce "integrated education, human services and social work" to prepare students to "challenge unequal structures and systems around race, age and social class." The center's programs would fill the place of school counseling jobs.
In California, Rep. Barbara Lee, has requested $1 million to give "culturally relevant" medical services to the Black community.
An added $1 million is being given by Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Pa., for "health equity clinics that provide primary and preventive health care services."
Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., asked for funding for $455,020 for "increased access, equity and diversity in health careers."
Ohio Democrat Rep. Joyce Beatty earmarked $482,500 for a new institute centered on "the interdisciplinary nature of scholarship on race, racial inequality, and social policy." The purpose of the institute is to promote policies and approaches that will "effectively support more socially equitable outcomes" in health, education, public safety and other areas for people of all races.
Earmarks -- a funding request from a member of congress for a specific project in their local district -- have a long and beleaguered history in Congress. After a corruption scandal revealed two congressmen involved in taking millions of dollars in earmarks bribes, they were banned in 2011.