$1.7 trillion in federal spending includes Leahy, Sanders earmarks worth $254 million

Pork diagram hand drawn illustration

by Guy Page

U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders both published press releases describing in detail how they were able to “give Vermont a center seat at the table” with $254 million of earmarked spending for Vermont programs as part of the $1.7 trillion federal spending bill passed by Congress last week.

Virtually all of the information below is derived from those two press releases. The releases do not address federal government plans to pay for the spending. Neither Leahy, who is leaving office in January, nor Sanders, who has requested a new committee appointment, will serve the new Congress in their respective positions as the chairs of Appropriations and Finance committees.

The bill contains more than $212 million in Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) – a/k/a earmarks – included by Leahy, for 38 projects across Vermont, he said. Leahy was also able to secure formula funding increases and programmatic changes to support longtime Vermont priorities. 

“As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee…. I am proud that I have been able to give Vermont a center seat at the table as this bill was written,” Leahy said.

Find link to a one pager of Leahy CDS that are funded here. Find link to a description of each Leahy CDS project here. Highlights include:

Burlington International Airport: Leahy secured $34 million in CDS to support the renovation and expansion of Vermont’s international Airport.  Before the pandemic, as many as 17,000 people boarded flights out of BTV a week.

University of Vermont: Leahy secured $30 million in CDS for the University of Vermont’s Honors College.  The funding will support programmatic development at the Honors College, promoting intellectual integrity, accountability and leadership among students.  In programmatic funding, Leahy secured $15 million for UVM’s Institute for Rural Partnerships, $13 million for the Food Systems Center, $10 million for the Rural Centers Against Addiction, $2 million for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research, and $4 million to establish a new Climate Impacts Center of Excellence at the University.  Other Programmatic funding to support UVM programs includes:

  • $1 million for the UVM based Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative;
  • $5 million for the UVM based Northeaster States Research Cooperative;
  • $2 million for research into disease bearing ticks;
  • $750,000 for Lake Champlain research; and
  • $2 million for a USDA soil testing program at the University.   
Retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy topped off his lengthy career of allocating federal funds to Vermont programs with $212 million in the $1.7 trillion spending bill he submitted as chair of Senate Appropriations.

Norwich University: Leahy secured $16.4 million in CDS for the Norwich University Multi-disciplinary Cyber Fusion Research and Development Center to create educational and workforce training opportunities in areas such as cybersecurity, information operations and dominance, computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and real-time decision making practices.

Lake Champlain: Leahy has long championed Lake Champlain as Vermont’s crown jewel.  To support Vermont’s ‘Great Lake,’ Leahy secured $25 million for the Lake Champlain Geographic Program, and $11 million for the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission for Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog in programmatic funding. 

Lake Champlain Basin Program: Leahy included language to authorize $35 million a year for the program for the next 5 years.  The Lake Champlain Basin Program coordinates efforts and resources to improve the Basin’s water quality, fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, recreation, and cultural resources.

Vermont Department of Public Safety (VDPS): Leahy secured $9 million in CDS to support the state’s transition to a modernized, regional communications network, which will support first responders, particularly in rural areas, by helping to reduce emergency response times.

Vermont Agency of Agricultural Food and Markets (VAAFM): Leahy secured $6 million in programmatic funding to support VAAFM’s Dairy Business Innovation Center, which provides support to dairy businesses through projects that promote development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products.

Revitalizing Vermont Communities: Leahy has long advocated and secured investments in Vermont’s historic downtowns and community centers, describing them as being “at the heart of who we are as Vermonters.”  In the omnibus appropriations bill released this week, he secured millions of dollars in funding to preserve these community treasures, including:

  • $40 million in programmatic core funding for the Northern Border Regional Commission;
  • $12 million in CDS to support the Vermont Agency of Transportation revitalize of Cherry Street and improve pedestrian access to the Church Street Marketplace;
  • $10 million in CDS for the Preservation Trust of Vermont Village Community Trust Initiative to provide assistance for 20 communities across Vermont;
  • $10 million in CDS for the Vermont Department of Libraries Public Facilities Preservation Initiative to help preserve and support libraries in our small, rural communities;
  • $500,000 in CDS for the historic preservation of Shelburne Farms’ Historic Farm Barn;
  • $500,000 in CDS for the historic preservation for Fletcher Free Library’s Historic Reading Room in Burlington; and
  • $200,000 in CDS for the historic preservation for Kimball Public Library in Randolph.

Other CDS priorities for Vermont secured by Leahy include:

  • $2.35 million – Leahy Center for Lake Champlain;
  • $8 million – Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies (VCET) – Innovation Hub;
  • $8.5 million – Vermont Energy Investment Corporation – Clean Heat Homes;
  • $6.5 million – Saint Michael’s College – The Center for the Environment at Saint Michael’s College;
  • $5 million – Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; and
  • $6.7 million – Vermont Air and Army National Guard projects. 

Other programmatic funding priorities include:

  • $22 million – Organics;
  • $15 million – Farm to School Grants;
  • $3 million – National Center on Restorative Justice at Vermont Law School;
  • $12.5 million – Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants; and
  • $40 million – National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in White River Junction.

See below for more details and some highlights on Sanders’ projects. Sanders chairs the Senate Finance Committee. For the full list of Sanders’ funded FY23 appropriations projects, see here.

Sen. Bernie Sanders earmarked $42 million

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

  1. Federally Qualified Health Center Expansion into Brattleboro: $4,220,000
    With this funding, Springfield Medical Care Systems, newly renamed North Star Health, will integrate with Windham County Dental Center on the campus of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital allowing 1,500 to 3,500 Vermonters to access dental care. North Star Health will also build a new facility in Windham County to provide much-needed primary medical and behavioral health care.
  2. Vermont EMS Academy: $750,000 
    This funding will establish the Vermont EMS Academy to serve as an educational partner for Vermont EMS and provide high quality, financially and geographically accessible enhanced training to help rebuild the EMS workforce across the state.
  3. CNA to RN Non-traditional Career Pathway Program: $473,000 
    With this funding, St. Johnsbury Academy will establish a nursing bridge program designed to take individuals from nursing assistant positions into registered nursing positions. The program would have points of entry that, from beginning to end, would move students from certified nursing assistants to licensed nursing assistants to licensed practical nurse and finally to certified nurse.
  4. Expansion of the Vermont State Firefighters Association Cadet Academy: $150,000 
    With this funding, the Vermont State Firefighters Association will quadruple the number of slots in its Fire Cadet Academy. This residential summer training program provides 14-to 17-year-old Vermonters with hands-on firefighter experience, critical leadership capabilities, and highly transferable soft skills.
  5. Improving the Social and Emotional Well-Being of Youth by Expanding Access to Arts Education and Enrichment, Governor’s Institute of Vermont: $304,000
    This funding will enable the Governor’s Institute of Vermont to double the number of program slots available in their summer arts program by adding a second session, ensuring an additional 130 young artists – teenagers and high school students – will have the opportunity to engage in experiential learning and career exploration.
  6. Nursing Virtual Reality Laboratory, Norwich University: $487,000 
    This funding will allow the nursing school at Norwich University to establish a virtual reality laboratory to better educate and train nursing students and meet the overflow of current and future enrollment.
  7. Harwood National and International Travel Study Program, Harwood Union High School: $134,000 
    This funding will expand a successful travel study program at Harwood Union High School to enroll more students and form new partnerships with schools in the United States and other nations. 
  8. Lake Access for Youth, Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center: $60,000 
    This funding will allow the Community Sailing Center (CSC) in Vermont to develop their Diversity Access Initiative and increase youth enrollment in their programming by covering the costs of new educational equipment and staffing.
  9. Afterschool and Summer Programming, Windham Central Supervisory Union: $100,000
    With this funding, the Windham Central Supervisory Union will support summer and afterschool programming for the students of the West River Valley in Vermont.

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies 

  1. Expanding and Improving Shared Equity Homeownership for Vermonters: $2,500,000
    With this funding, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board will expand affordable, shared equity homeownership opportunities to low- and moderate-income Vermonters statewide.
  2. Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail Rehabilitation and Extension: $1,440,000 
    Congressionally directed funds will be used for design and construction of the state owned Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail (MVRT).
  3. ANDCO Mobile Home Cooperative: $688,000 
    With this funding, the ANDCO Mobile Home Cooperative will replace existing substandard homes and remove abandoned homes, helping us to set the low-income, resident-owned co-op on a path toward long-term sustainability.
  4. The Veterans’ Place Renovation: $997,000 
    With this funding, the Veterans’ Place, Inc will comprehensively renovate its current transitional housing facility for homeless veterans to better accommodate older veterans, veterans with disabilities and health issues, and veterans who need supportive housing.
  5. Central & Main Housing: $1,000,000
    Funding will be used to construct a highly energy efficient 30-united mixed-income building in Windsor, Vermont on a vacant site in the center of town, on Main Street within a state “Designated Downtown.” 

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

  1. Water Improvement Projects for The Royalton Fire District 1: $670,000
    This funding will support the Royalton Fire District 1 as it completes required upgrades of its drinking water treatment plant. 
  2. North Wells and Reservoir Project for The Town of Randolph: $775,000 
    With this funding, the Town of Randolph will build new wells and a new reservoir tank to improve drinking water quality for its residents. 
  3. Route 302 Water Main Replacement for The City of Barre: $2,240,000  
    This funding will be used by the City of Barre to replace an aging and unreliable drinking water transmission line. 
  4. Sewer Infrastructure Upgrades for The Town of Whitingham: $1,000,000 
    With this funding, the Town of Whitingham will complete required safety upgrades to its two wastewater treatment facilities. 
  5. Historic Museum Revitalization Project for The Saint Albans Museum: $70,000 
    With this funding, the Saint Albans Museum will complete exterior brickwork.
  6. Rockingham Meeting House Conservation and Restoration Project for The Rockingham Historic Preservation Commission: $360,000  
    The Rockingham Historic Preservation Commission will use this funding to restore and conserve the historic Rockingham Meeting House for safe public use. 
  7. Beebe Lane Stormwater Improvements for The Lake Iroquois Association: $320,000 
    The Lake Iroquois Association (LIA), in coordination with the Lake Iroquois Recreational District (LIRD), will use this funding to make improvements to Beebe Lane to better manage stormwater runoff into Lake Iroquois.  

Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

  1. Barre Municipal Auditorium Upgrades: $3,451,000
    These funds will support important upgrades and renovations to the historic Barre Municipal Auditorium. The Aud has been an essential and versatile facility serving Vermonters in the region for more than 80 years. These improvements will ensure that families will be able to visit and use the Aud for generations to come.
  2. Tinker Child Enrichment Center: $1,500,000
    These funds will support construction of a 7,500 square foot facility for child care and education in Morrisville, VT. The Center will offer 72 high-quality child care spaces – 16 for infants, 22 for toddlers, and 34 for preschoolers offering full day, full year early care and education services – filling an urgent need for families in the region.

Energy and Water Development

  1. Resilient Power for Community Health Centers: $500,000 
    The Clean Energy Group will install solar energy and battery storage systems at several community health centers in Vermont.
  2. Brandon Senior Citizens Center Solar Panel Project: $7,000 
    The Brandon Senior Citizens Center will install a solar array to reduce the building’s energy costs and carbon footprint as well as enhance the building’s energy resiliency.
  3. Solar Energy Demonstration Project for Public Libraries: $57,000 
    The Worthen Library in South Hero will install 125 230-watt solar panels that would produce up to 85 percent of the library’s annual electric usage and save up to $5,000 a year in energy costs. 

Financial Services and General Government

  1. Center for Small Business and Community Legal Education: $1,274,000
    Vermont Law School’s Entrepreneurship Lab will establish the new Center for Small Business and Community Legal Education to provide expert legal education and subsidized legal services to Vermont’s small businesses. 
  2. Improving Market Access for Small and Rural Vermont Farms: $220,000
    This project will support the continued operation of the Center for an Agricultural Economy’s food delivery service, CAE Farm Connex. Farm Connex is vital to ensuring that the future of Vermont’s diversified farm economy is viable in rural communities.
  3. Montgomery Community Project: $80,000 
    The Montgomery Community Project will create a modern community workspace to provide local business owners and remote workers with the space, infrastructure, and business counseling and assistance they need to thrive in today’s evolving business climate.|
  4. Rokeby Museum: The Underground Railroad in Vermont Exhibition: $55,000  
    This project will replace the outdated permanent exhibit at Rokeby Museum with an exhibition that explores the history of enslavement and the Underground Railroad in Vermont, and the impacts of slavery and racism in Vermont communities today.
  5. The Vermont History Center: A Research Center for Preserving and Sharing Vermont’s Treasures: $210,000 
    The Vermont Historical Society will create a visible storage and research gallery of Vermont’s treasures – including artifacts, books, and documents reflecting the entire history of the state – for public access. 

Homeland Security

  1. Glen Brook Dam Removal at Castleton University: $188,000
    CDS funds will be used to partially or fully remove a small dam, thereby mitigating flood risk and restoring a natural ecosystem.
  2. Restoration of Moscow Mills at Smith’s Falls: $1,200,000 
    CDS funds will be used to upgrade underbuilt flood control works (sluiceway) and repair infrastructure damaged by Tropical Storm Irene at Stowe Electric’s historic dam and mill, improving flood resiliency and paving the way for energy resiliency.

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies

  1. Micro-Grid System, Planning and Design: $1,170,000
    Planning and design funds to execute design work to construct a secure, integrated, primary voltage, feeder-level Micro-Grid, including a smart grid control system, a 66kAH battery storage system, and a 750kW photovoltaic solar array.

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

  1. Justice Reform Legal Clinic: $975,000 
    This funding will establish a new legal aid clinic at Vermont Law School to reduce recidivism and mass incarceration among Vermonters.
  2. Memphremagog Maritime Education Center: $150,000 
    These funds will help establish the Memphremagog Maritime Education Center in Newport, which will teach students, teachers, community organizations, and visitors about Lake Memphremagog. This Center will not only highlight this invaluable natural resource, but also connect the next generation to it. 

Categories: Congress

11 replies »

  1. Only $254 Million??? Really.

    These numbers are so big, it’s hard to grasp their relative nature.

    The $1.7 Trillion omnibus bill, in total, is equal to $5,515 per U.S. citizen… or a $3.32 Billion share +- for all 645 thousand Vermonters.

    To put that in the perspective, Vermont received more than $10 Billion in federal Covid relief dollars, not counting the subsidies healthcare providers received for each Covid patient. That’s $15,500 per Vermonter (i.e., per capita) over a one year +- period.

    Leahy’s and Sander’s annualized $254 Million omnibus earmarks are less than $400 per Vermonter. And most of the people who will see this money work for the State.


    P.S. Yes, any earmark is one too many. But that the Leahy/Sanders contingency is being said to have done great things for Vermonters… forget it.

    Let them eat cake.

    • As an independent pro musician, I didn’t get/qualify for ‘relief’ other than a couple of $600 payments. And then the IRS sent me a letter demanding/commanding I return the second payment w/ can’t make this stuff up.

    • Here’s another perspective. 1/4 of 1% of what we’re giving to the Ukraine!!!!

  2. Term limits !!! If these porkers were only allowed two terms like the Prez, we’d be talking about 12 years and you’re out ! If 8 years is enough for the Prez, 12 ought to be plenty for a Senator ! There would be more turnover, and less emphasis on seniority, subsequently, the pork, and committee assignments would be shared more equitably . It might even encourage more turnover in the “swamp creatures”. Regardless, IMO no one should be allowed to become as ensconced in Washington as someone with 48 years of “service” is .

  3. Two liberal old fools blithely spending taxpayer money, just to make themselves feel good during the ‘Holiday Season,’ without any consideration of the efforts the taxpayers made to earn the money, or the resulting inflation that made the taxpayers’ Christmas less ‘Merry and Bright.’ I hope that Bernie and Patrick found coal in their stockings this year…

  4. In their grand generosity, they completely overlooked mental illness. They can’t see or touch it from their backyard so it’s wasted money for them.

    • Vermont Constitution, Article 9: “… previous to any law being made to raise a tax, the purpose for which it is to be raised ought to appear evident to the Legislature to be of more service to community than the money would be if not collected.”

      I suspect most Vermont legislators have never read the Vermont Constitution in its entirety.

      • Who are the enforcers of the Vermont constitution? Vermont’s law of the state? Please don’t tell me the voters. Do we have a Supreme Court in Vermont? Yes we do but they are appointed and not elected so what are they doing about a lawless legislature? Nothing! How can the voters be represented when our legislators are bought off by out of state ideological money from deep pocket social justice non-profit organizations? VPIRG, 40 lobbyists, FTX criminal, illegal donations to the democratic party. How many lobbyists do the voters have? None. How can we reign in an out of control censoring media? How do we reign in our illegal elections? How do we enforce the politicians oath to not harm the VT constitution under the pains and penalties of perjury? Why is a lawless President allowed to ruin the USA? So many questions, no answers.

      • D: Yes its the voters.

        Which is why Ben Franklin warned us, in 1787, that:
        “…I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. ”

        We’ve reached the crossroads and have ourselves to blame. Its up to each of us now, individually, to do what we must to cope with this lawlessness.


  5. And the COVID-19 relief funds that were supposed to go to small businesses were used by schools to implement equity and social emotional learning via CASTEL programs and resources. CASTEL is a brainwashing program created by the Fetzer Institute to program the future population, according to the UN 2030 And WEF agenda. I recently read a paper published in the Journal of Academic Policy about phycho data mining children. The article stated Social Emotional Learning needs to be understood for the political and economical management of the population. The WEF also openly references using AI through tech ED programs and social emotional learning to create a global government.and private corporation monopoly to control education globally. The WEF plans to educate children in the Metaverse using one educational program. No wonder why the US classical liberal educational program is under attack.