Even before Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) passed away last week, Congress approved a $5.8 million “planning and design” earmark for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate, which would include creating a full-size replica of the Senate chamber. It would be built at the University of Massachusetts, adjacent to the JFK Presidential Library. This summer, Kennedy’s colleague, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., added another $12.6 million earmark (still pending in Congress) to help build the memorial.
Honoring the late Senator is understandable, but there are limits on what’s a proper use of tax dollars.
According to The Boston Globe: “The center will be a shrine to the Senate, with homage to Kennedy, just as the building next door is a showcase for the presidency, with the focus on his brother John.”
Citizens Against Government Waste complained, “This pet project has already received millions of dollars from the health care industry and organized labor. Taxpayers should not be responsible for helping the project reach its $50 million fundraising goal.”
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As the Associated Press noted last spring, “Local officials last year announced they were seeking up to $100 million to build the institute, which they said would focus on the Senate in general and Kennedy’s more than four decades of service to the body. The facility will be located in Boston on a four-acre plot near the JFK library. About $20 million has already been raised for the institute, including contributions from drug companies, insurance companies and hospitals. Tentative plans called for a replica of the Senate chamber itself, as well as programs to train new senators.”
One supposed use of the Kennedy Institute’s replica of the Senate chamber would be to “train” new Senators.Ed What’s wrong with on-the-job training in the genuine Senate chamber in the U.S. Capitol?
It’s a bad extension of Congress’ out-of-control practice of using earmarks to honor its own members.
There are better ways to honor Senator Ted Kennedy’s legacy. Wasting money should not be one of them.