"The things we're reviewing today run from tragic to funny to somewhere in between," Weiner said Thursday.
For example, there was $7,000 for bulletproof vests for police and fire department dogs in Ohio; $8,000 for clown and puppet shows performed by fire safety officials in Wisconsin; $33,000 for customized trailers to be used at a mushroom festival and lawn mower "drag races" in Texas; and $200,000 for 70 security cameras to protect a remote Alaska fishing village — cameras, the town admits on its Web site, "mostly no one" watches.
"If we reach a point where a fishing village in Alaska is the target of al Qaeda, we are all in very deep trouble," Weiner said.
In recent months, CBS News has reported on dubious Department of Homeland Security spending in states like Montana and Arizona, giving rise to those who question a formula set by Congress that requires every state — regardless of risk — get a slice of the Homeland Security pie.
"Very quickly it became almost an entitlement," says James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation. "The 9/11 Commission warned about this and said this is in danger of becoming pork-barrel funding."
On Thursday, Weiner and Flake proposed breaking open the barrel with a public database that would hold states accountable for how they spend every Homeland Security dollar.
"This is an effort to make sure that money goes where it is actually needed, rather than be spread across the country by either formula or favor," Flake said.
Today's critique comes as Homeland Security is reviewing applications on how it will allocate nearly $2 billion to cities and states this year.