Tags: McConnell | kickback | dam | bill

McConnell Accused of Pork Barreling in Funding Deal

Image: McConnell Accused of Pork Barreling in Funding Deal

Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 10:44 AM

By Melanie Batley and Elliot Jager

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who led the GOP in the deal to end the government shutdown, is being accused of using the funding bill to squirrel away money for his own Kentucky constituency.

The 35-page bill, passed by Congress and signed Wednesday night by President Barack Obama, sets aside $2 billion for the Olmsted Locks and Dam waterway project in Kentucky and Illinois, designed to ease barge traffic on the Ohio River, The Washington Post reports.

Within hours of the bill's passage, the Senate Conservatives Fund issued a statement labeling it "the Kentucky Kickback," adding, "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. This is what's wrong with Washington and it's what's wrong with Mitch McConnell."

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Sen. John McCain told The Daily Beast, "These people are like alcoholics. They can't resist taking a drink. It's ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous. It should have gone through the normal legislative process."

McConnell's office, however, denies he requested the funds be included in the bill.
According to Politico, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat, and Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican, asked for the money. Alexander's office confirmed it.

Both the House and Senate this year authorized more money for the project, and the president had asked for it to be included in the 2014 budget. Without the authorization, the program would have had to shut down in November, costing taxpayers $80 million to restart it in six months or $160 million if it were stalled for one year, according to The Post.

The Senate Conservatives Fund recently targeted McConnell with ads criticizing his stance on Obamacare. It also is considering backing a primary challenger to take him on in the 2014 primary.

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