McConnell Spokesman: Kentucky Dam Earmark in Debt Deal Not Senator's Project
Senate Minority leader's office claims controversial pork spending in debt deal came from a sub-comittee.
Kentucky outlet WFPL reported Wednesday that a proposal to end the federal government shutdown and increase the U.S. debt ceiling by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) included a $2 billion earmark for the Olmstead Dam Lock in Louisville.
Language in a draft of the McConnell-Reid deal (see page 13, section 123) provided to WFPL News shows a provision that increases funding for the massive Olmsted Dam Lock in Louisville from $775 million to nearly $2. 9 billion.
The dam is considered an important project for the state and region in regards to water traffic along the Ohio River.
As The Courier-Journal's James Bruggers reported in 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said they needed about $2.1 billion for the locks due to "stop and go funding."
McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told Breitbart News, "It’s an authorization; it doesn’t appropriate any money, but the energy and water sub committee appropriations committee did that. They’re the ones to talk to."
Stewart continued, "It’s not our project, but the Energy and Water Sub Committee did that project and they’re the ones to talk to. Senator Alexander and Senator Feinstein of California."
Sen. Alexander's office told BuzzFeed the provision was added to keep the funding from being canceled.
"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. [Diane] 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."
The Senate Conservative's Fund, however, refers to the measure as a "kickback," saying that 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. He also requested $100 million for it in 2010."