The Senate approved a last-minute request by Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) on Tuesday to spend $600 million to build a new U.S. Navy ship in Mobile, Alabama, hoping to help the embattled incumbent in the runoff Sep. 26.
Bloomberg Government reported Wednesday:
Without much fanfare or debate, the Senate yesterday approved as part of the massive 2018 defense authorization bill a provision written by Strange that would allow the Pentagon to commit an extra $600 million to order another Littoral Combat Ship.
The littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit Coronado (LCS 4) being rolled-out at the Austal USA assembly bay.
The Austal USA facility employs thousands of Alabamans. Strange is, no doubt, using an old-fashioned Beltway “swamp” pitch to Alabama voters: he can bring home the pork because he is friends with the Senate leadership.
The question is whether anyone in Alabama will be impressed. Over the past decade, voters have soured on pork barrel spending as they have become increasingly conscious of the country’s ever-expanding $20 trillion debt. In 2009, when then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) needed support for Obamacare, he negotiated the so-called “Cornhusker Kickback” and the “Louisiana Purchase,” trading hundreds of millions of dollars for votes. The bill passed, but the public was outraged, and that resentment fueled the Tea Party rebellion of November 2010.
The Trump administration has tried similar tactics, and they have backfired spectacularly. When Senate Republicans were short of votes to pass the “skinny repeal,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke warned wavering Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) that she was jeopardizing her state’s access to federal largesse. She ignored him and voted “no.”
Strange may think he is impressing the Alabama electorate by spending other people’s money on their behalf, but in fact what he may have shown voters is he is every bit the “swamp creature” that his conservative opponent, Roy Moore, is painting him to be.
In an election that has become a referendum on the Republican establishment, and on President Donald Trump’s new, Beltway-friendly agenda, Strange may have just committed a final, fatal mistake.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.