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Goodies

Posted By Russ Roberts On October 17, 2013 @ 11:12 am In Crony Capitalism,Politics | Comments Disabled

The Hill reports [1] that there are a number of goodies in the bill that re-opens the federal government. Or maybe baddies is the right word.

My two favorite sections are 123 and 146:

SEC. 123. Section 3(a)(6) of Public Law 100–676 is
amended by striking both occurrences of ‘‘$775,000,000’’
and inserting in lieu thereof, ‘‘$2,918,000,000’’.

What’s that about? Don’t worry. Spending an additional $2.2 billion actually saves us money as the Huffington Post explains [2]:

Section 123 of the Senate bill secures $2.918 billion in funding for the Olmsted Lock and Dam Authority for a dam project on the Ohio River being developed by URS Corp., a construction management company. That’s a huge boost from the $775 million originally allotted. URS told The Wall Street Journal that the project [3] – one of the largest taken on by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — would halt without more funding.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) of Tennessee  [4]– another state benefitting from the project — said the provision was necessary to preserve $160 million in contracts.

“According to the Army Corps of Engineers, 160 million taxpayer dollars will be wasted because of canceled contracts if this language is not included. Sen. [Dianne] 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,” Alexander said in a statement to BuzzFeed [4].

While the earmark is a great deal for McConnell, the funding request reportedly came from President Barack Obama [5]. A McConnell spokesman told The Wall Street Journal [3] that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the funding earlier this year, and that the request came from the White House.

Reid said there’s nothing shady about the “so-called anomaly” tucked into the bill.

“This is not an earmark,” Reid told reporters. “It saves the taxpayers lots of money.”

Reid said the provision enables the Corps of Engineers to continue work on the project, which, in turn, saves taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

“Had we not done this, the Corps of Engineers would have had to spend before the last day of December $80 million to stop the project,” Reid said. “So there’s no need to point fingers at anyone. … It does nothing to running up the deficit. In fact, it saves the government money.”

Then there’s section 146:

SEC. 146. Notwithstanding any other provision of
this joint resolution, there is appropriated for payment to
Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, widow of Frank R. Lau-
tenberg, late a Senator from New Jersey, $174,000.

What is that about? Could they have made $180,000? Did the Senate borrow $174,000 from her during the shutdown? That’s the whole text relevant to Lautenberg’s widow as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. Can someone explain that one to me, please.

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URLs in this post:

[1] The Hill reports: http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/328925-surprises-tucked-in-senate-debt-bill

[2] Huffington Post explains: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/16/mitch-mcconnell-budget-deal_n_4111387.html

[3] Wall Street Journal that the project: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/10/16/colorado-and-kentucky-winners-in-budget-deal/

[4] Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) of Tennessee : http://www.buzzfeed.com/johnstanton/shutdown-deal-includes-nearly-3-billion-for-kentucky-dam-pro

[5] President Barack Obama: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics-live/liveblog/live-updates-the-shutdown-9/?id=a9f2f203-96e6-4943-baf1-bc7ae85af94f

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