pork barrel

noun Informal.
a government appropriation, bill, or policy that supplies funds for local improvements designed to ingratiate legislators with their constituents.

Origin:
1905–10, Americanism

pork-barrel, adjective
pork-barreling, adjective, noun
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pork barrel
 
n
slang chiefly (US)
 a.  a bill or project requiring considerable government spending in a locality to the benefit of the legislator's constituents
 b.  (as modifier): pork-barrel spending
 
[C20: term originally applied to the Federal treasury considered as a source of lucrative grants]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

pork barrel

Government funding of something that benefits a particular district, whose legislator thereby wins favor with local voters. For example, Our senator knows the value of the pork barrel. This expression alludes to the fatness of pork, equated with political largesse since the mid-1800s. [c. 1900]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Time for space exploration to take a back seat to pork barrel.
The logic should be lower taxes and zero pork barrel.
Right-wing critics sneer that this is a pork barrel for obscurantist, lefty pc
  historians, but they are wrong.
It is a plan that's been put together without earmarks or the usual pork barrel
  spending.
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