How earmarks helped Philadelphia firm with defense work. Even though its decontaminant was found to be inferior, Rohm and Haas still got millions
Sunday, December 21, 2008
By Christine Willmsen and David Heath, The Seattle Times
SEATTLE -- Scientists have discovered a lotion that can save the lives of U.S. soldiers exposed to chemical weapons -- a product vastly superior to the standard-issue decontamination powder.
Naturally, the Defense Department wants to scrap the powder and switch to the more-effective lotion.
But there's a problem: After being lobbied by the companies making the powder, several members of Congress pushed through two earmarks worth $7.6 million that forced the military for the past two years to keep buying the inferior product.
The product, known as M291, is made from a resin sold exclusively by a Pennsylvania chemical company, which is then processed into powder by a New York company, then assembled into individual kits at a facility in Arkansas.
Among the lawmakers who championed the earmarks are Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.; Arlen Specter, R-Pa.; and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.