Guess Who Got $2 Billion For A Dam In Congress Last Night

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Win McNamee / Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrives at the U.S. Capitol October 16, 2013 in Washington, DC.

The bill that ended the government shutdown and forestalled a debt crisis Wednesday night had at its core what the country expected: it funded the government and averted default. But that was not all.

Among its less well-known provisions were a number of long-standing funding requests, including $450 million in Colorado flood relief and $600 million to fight forest fires. There was also some back pay for state workers funded through federal grants, and money for the widow of the late New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

But one of the most notable additions to the 35-page bill was a $2.1 billion increase in funding for a dam under construction on the Kentucky-Illinois border, which just happens to be the home turf of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). It has raised the alarm bells of conservatives, who have long complained about Republicans who spend heavily on their home states. One group, the Senate Conservatives Fund, immediately christened the dam project the “Kentucky Kickback.”

“The McConnell-Reid bill not only funds Obamacare and suspends the debt limit, it ALSO includes a provision…that increases the authorization for the Olmsted Lock in Kentucky from $775 million to nearly $3 billion,” writes SCF in a statement. “In exchange for funding Obamacare and raising the debt limit, Mitch McConnell has secured a $2 billion earmark.”

When asked about the project, McConnell’s office referred TIME to Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), two members on the Senate committee that is responsible for appropriations. Their office said McConnell was not directly responsible for inserting the language. “According to the Army Corps of Engineers, 160 million taxpayer dollars will be wasted because of canceled contracts if this language is not included,” wrote Sen. Alexander in a statement to TIME. “Senator Feinstein and I, as chairman and ranking member of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, requested this provision. It has already been approved this year by the House and Senate.” A spokesman for Sen. Feinstein agreed that the increased funding was nothing new.

But that is unlikely to be the final word spoken on the subject. Founded by Heritage Foundation Chairman Jim DeMint, the Senate Conservatives Fund has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars against McConnell in his 2014 Kentucky senate race. “Mitch McConnell is negotiating the Republican surrender,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the group, according to the Hill Monday. No matter how the project originated, the group is sure to use the “Kentucky Kickback” as a catchy new shorthand to portray McConnell as a Washington insider, in the hopes of making the dam a factor in next year’s election.

31 comments
jamesgordon
jamesgordon

It's a  Dam  shame  , but they are republicans , And  the  self  righteous party has  two  sets  of  rules  , One set  of  rules  for  them , and  one set  for  the  other  folks . They  really  believe  that  their  cause  is  righteous and  everyone  else  is  evil .

jimsadpa
jimsadpa

Someone should do an analysis of all the earmarks and money that is buried in all of these workouts.  Nothing like a smokescreen to cover up more spending.

aasi
aasi

It is all about their re-election bid and never about the country. It is even worse when Undisclosed donations are funds stolen from the hard working American and given to special interest groups to create bogus political organizations.

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1049345

mary.waterton
mary.waterton

I'm not surprised. Mitch McConnell is a RINO republican.

There is not a dimes worth of difference between a RINO republican and a BORROW-AND-SPEND socialist democrat. This is why the Tea Party came into existence ... to get rid of these guys before they bankrupt the nation.

rphunter42
rphunter42

Dealing with Feinstein is definitely sleeping with the enemy.  Is this standard practice, or outright pay-off?


BobJan
BobJan

The "Pot calling the kettle black". LOL

sandlewould
sandlewould

A Kentuckian groans in humiliation even as she sighs with relief...for now. As if having, as Steven Colbert so aptly put it, a human-turtle hybrid as my rep. in the Senate wasn’t embarrassing enough...nothing against turtles mind you, for the most part they are benevolent, but not so much in this case. Last night Mitch McSnapper, a tax and spend CONservative, (tax the poor to spend on the rich) squeezed 3 BILLION $$ for KY out of the pockets of the poor who have been without work and in some cases food since the shut down. (not to mention the countless lives that will be ruined by the draconian cuts which look as if they might become permanent). Supposedly, we need a dam, but for the life of me I can’t think where we’d need one THAT big. 

For the moment, the multi-national corporate plutocraps have manipulated the strings of their T-puppets into concession. They chose to delay bringing about the world-wide financial chaos they so desperately want in order to maneuver into power in a final bid for global fascist control. This I’m guessing, is because the Supreme Court has not yet rendered voters completely impotent, another thing my illustrious cold-blooded reptilian Senator has groveled for within the last 10 days. Once SCROTUS waves that flag of surrender, they know the vote will be warm putty in their hands. The worse their ratings in the polls, the more intoxicated by the potential of absolute power they will become, cackling like drunken, evil witches around a cauldron. 

We will not stop voting, we will never stop speaking out.


BSF1
BSF1

One of the worst sources of corruption is the process of tacking on all sorts of unrelated issues to every important bill.  This is criminal!  Each bill, large or small, should be judged and voted upon independently. When did this "lumping together" or pork barrel (remember this term?) become the norm in our legislative process?

ThinkNauts
ThinkNauts

2 billion to save 160 million.  What a bargain.   Idiots.

shapiro.len
shapiro.len

this is how sick we are- if McConnell loses the election next year, as abhorrent as he is, a tea party anarchist will replace him. seen from that angle, the 2 billion authorization is worth it. or else, we will have to go back to the STONE AGE, and we all know what happened there.

rutnerh
rutnerh

Kentucky kickback, another example of totally corrupt legislation enacted by dinosaur pols that ought to be sent packing. How to impose term limits? Not by self serving congress, but by informed voter action such as NEVER voting for an incumbent or the candidate with the biggest campaign budget. Voters are the best means to rapidly solve most problems in corrupt DC. Let's use voter lobbying to both evict professional pols and to fight the lobbyists representing vested interests with deep pockets!!!!

thebax
thebax

The dam project needs over 3 times the estimate?!! What ever happened to signing a contract for a project and locking in the price?!! They better not lose the billing information because we need to see where every penny was spent! The Government finds it way too easy to tell us they don't know where the money went just like the plane loads of cash that disappeared in Iraq. That is totally unacceptable. It's bad enough my tax dollars are not being used here in the States yet to be lost in a Muslim desert!!

notsacredh
notsacredh

Here's a better (and more recent) photo of the project. If congress would stop slashing the budget for these projects, they could be completed on time and closer to their original budgets. Think of it this way. You're having a house built and it's going to be completed in two months. The contractors gives you a price and completion time. You agree to it. After work has begun you tell him, let's just do the foundation this year. The year after you tell him "let's just put up the framework this year. The next year you tell him "Let's just do the wiring and plumbing this year" The next year you tell him, "Let's just finish the outside this year". The next year he finishes the inside and you're stunned that the bill is so high and not what he originally said.

http://www.lrl.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/Navigation/LocksandDams/OlmstedLocksandDam.aspx

daledougherty
daledougherty

So for Republicans they believe that Government cannot create jobs unless its an infrastructure project they like. How many infrastructure bills supported by the Democrats have the Republicans blocked in the past 5 years? All of them because you know that Government spending (when its Democrats) does not create jobs.  Just think how much better our economy would be if these Republicans had really cared about 'creating jobs'.  We would have more jobs, some of our failing infrastructure would be being repaired, there would be more tax revenue to reduce the deficit, etc.  These Republicans sure put 'country first'.

DavidStrayer
DavidStrayer

Unquestionably, the dedication of the GOP to fiscal rectitude only goes so far.  They are absolutely against jobs, medical coverage and education for Americans.  

But, by golly, they must have that pork for Kentucky.

Let's be clear about this, because it's important.  The Republicans inherited a $350B surplus from Bill Clinton.  By forcing through irresponsible tax breaks for the very wealthy, initiating a criminal war in Iraq, botching another military action in Afghanistan, and relaxing oversight on the financial services industry which led directly to the horrible recession-almost-depression, they ran up $8T in federal debt.

Then, when Obama's administration came to town with an eye towards jobs, federal expenditures to keep Americans employed and their jobs intact, the Republicans suddenly decided we had to cut the deficit that they largely created.

Their continued dedication to home state pork barrel expenditures is amply exemplified here.  They have demonstrated unequivocally that they can't be trusted with the responsibility of governing and that they are irresponsible stewards of public trust.  They have no business in government.

chacalcdn
chacalcdn

Mmmm what happenned to the Tea Party "Cut spending sing song"

Applicable to Sandy but not Colorado nor Kentucky?

GOP

Grinch Of Poor

notsacredh
notsacredh

The Olmsted Locks and Dam replaces two obsolete  locks and dams that created a bottleneck for barge traffic. The cost of rehabiltating would have been GREATER than building the new one. The locks part of the prohect was completed in 2002. This isn't a new project. It's beginnings stretches back a couple of decades.

grape_crush
grape_crush

> No matter how the project originated, the group is sure to use the “Kentucky Kickback” as a catchy new shorthand to portray McConnell as a Washington insider, in the hopes of making the dam a factor in next year’s election.

So? It's not as if bringing the bacon back to his home state is going to make McConnell less popular in his home state. Whinging about earmarks is popular when you're doing it generically, as in railing against something vague like 'pork barrel spending'...but when we get to the specifics of said spending and we are the recipients of that government largesse, the level of outrage seems to be noticeably diminished.

It's part of that whole, 'I hate Congress but I like my Congressman' thing. Which is why I think comparing approval ratings between Congress as a group and the President as an individual is kind of a sham, apples-to-oranges thing. But that's another topic.

jamesgordon
jamesgordon

@mary.waterton Are  you  serious ?????? Take a look at  what some  tea  party people have  done  with money ,  you  can  start  with that  twit palin .  


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AlishaGraves13

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notsacredh
notsacredh

@thebax , blame congress. They kept cutting the funds every year needed to finish the project. The locks portion opened up in 2002. If the contractors tell you the project is going to cost something and then you don't give them enough to finish it. do you expect the contractors to finish it for free? If your house payment is 1000 a month and you decide to pay only 200 a month, do you still think it's going to paid off according to the original mortage?

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

@sacredh 

Sacred, congrats on getting your own dam. It's about time. And you got the Socialists in Congress to fund it too.

notsacredh
notsacredh

@forgottenlord, this new locks and dam is massive. It takes the place of two old facilities. It's pumped enormous amounts of money into the local economies and one of the reasons it's taken so long to complete is is because the funding for the project has been cut so many times that the price of completing it has skyrocketed. 

grape_crush
grape_crush

@sacredh 

So you're saying that the Senate Conservatives Fund is basically full of it, right?

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@sacredh

THIS is why I'm a believer in the Canadian style government which I describe as 4 year dictatorships.  Yes, Harper gets to reign to his heart's content and rule with an iron fist but it allows you to keep pushing projects forward and getting them f-ing finished.

notsacredh
notsacredh

@grape_crush , in spades. The dams it replaces were old and crumbling. Besides being unable to cope with increased barge traffic, almost everything on both dams needed to be replaced and rebuilt. But of course the right didn't mention that. I'm pushing 60. I was in my 30's when this project was on the drawing boards.