pork barrel Legislation providing federal funding for local projects designed to put congressmen in the good graces of their constituents. Thus, the pork barrel is, metaphorically speaking, the federal treasury viewed as a source of monies for “pet” local projects. The connection between this figurative, political sense of pork barrel and the literal keg is not clear, although it may derive from pork considered as fat , a slang term for excess wealth, riches. Use of this . slang expression is restricted to politics and dates from the early part of this century.