The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Community News Network

October 17, 2013

Shutdown deal's dam funding brings cry of favoritism, denials

WASHINGTON — A provision on page 13 of the 35-page bill to end the government shutdown would add a large amount of money — more than $2 billion — in funding authorization to an obscure waterway project in Kentucky and Illinois.

The project is called the Olmsted Locks and Dam. It is run by the Army Corps of Engineers and is supposed to help ease barge traffic on a busy stretch of the Ohio River.

Shortly after the bill was released late Wednesday, some critics looked at this provision and saw a favor for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., one of the two Senate leaders who negotiated the bill. He is up for re-election in 2014.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, which has targeted McConnell with attacks from the right, called it "the Kentucky Kickback."

"McConnell may try to blame someone else for this, but he wrote the bill and it's not the first time he has sought funds for this project," the group said in a news release. "This is what's wrong with Washington and it's what's wrong with Mitch McConnell."

It's true that McConnell had requested "earmark" funds for this project in the past, according to a database of such requests kept by Legistorm. Did he request that its inclusion in Wednesday's Senate bill?

"No, he did not," Don Stewart, McConnell's spokesman, said in an email message.

Instead, Senate staffers said there was bipartisan support for increasing the project's funding. The provision does not allocate $2 billion; rather, it raises the cap for the amount Congress could allocate later. President Barack Obama asked for it in his 2014 budget, and both the House and the Senate had passed bills allowing the increase this year. The House did criticize the Corps of Engineers, saying if it had managed the project better there would not be the need for the "massive increase" in funding authority.

The project, authorized in 1988, is intended to replace two locks and dams that were built in the 1930s.

In a gridlocked Congress, bills to increase the funding authorization have not become law. Senate staffers said the project was about to run out of money and would have begun shutting down in November. If the program had to be shut down and then restarted, one Democratic aide said, the "cost to taxpayers would be an additional $80 million over the next six months, and $160 million if the project were terminated for one year."

That pressing deadline was the reason that the funding was included in this bill. "Senator McConnell did not push for this provision," the Democratic aide said.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo