Around It..... The defense bill that just passed the House of Representatives includes a back-door fund that lets individual members of Congress funnel millions of dollars into projects of their choosing. This is happening despite a congressional ban on earmarks -- special, discretionary spending that has funded Congress' pet projects back home in years past, but now has fallen out of favor among budget-conscious deficit hawks. Under the cloak of a mysteriously-named "Mission Force Enhancement Transfer Fund," Congress has been squirreling away money -- like $9 million for "future undersea capabilities development," $19 million for "Navy ship preliminary design and feasibility studies," and more than $30 million for a "corrosion prevention program." Roughly $1 billion was quietly transferred from projects listed in the president's defense budget and placed into the "transfer fund." This fund, which wasn't in previous year's defense budgets (when earmarks were permitted), served as a piggy bank from which committee members were able to take money to cover the cost of programs introduced by their amendments. And take they did. More than $600 million went to a wide number of projects, many of which appear to directly benefit some congressional districts over others. Mysterious fund allows Congress to spend freely, despite earmark ban - CNN.com It does appear to be a bi-partsian scam, however, so maybe things are getting a little better.