Did McConnell score a kickback in the budget deal?

posted at 2:01 pm on October 17, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Well, Kentucky scored some government cash, or at least might have with an addendum to the Reid-McConnell bill that has conservatives steamed.  Eric Pfeiffer at Yahoo News reported on it last night, shortly after the House took up the bill and eventually passed it with significant Republican support:

However, the nation’s leading Republican senator came out of the deal far from empty handed. That’s because it’s been reported that Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell secured language in the new government funding bill that includes nearly $3 billion for a dam project in his home state of Kentucky.

According to reports, a provision in the funding bill includes $2.918 billion in funding to the Army Corps of Engineers to install locks as part of the Olmsted Dam and Lock Authority Project on the Ohio River.

recent investigation by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found that the project has run millions of dollars over budget and should have been completed “years ago.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates thatthe project will not be fully complete until 2024.

The Wall Street Journal has more on the project:

One of the few groups to get extra money was the Olmsted Lock and Dam Authority, which is being developed byURS Corp.URS +1.27%, a construction management company that develops projects for the government. The lock and dam, which is under construction on the Ohio River between Olmsted, Ill., and Monkey’s Eyebrow, Ky., would be authorized to receive $2.92 billion, up from $775 million. The company says the dam is one of the largest civil works projects ever undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and will replace two of the original locks and dams completed in 1929. Construction will stop without more money, according to a summary of the bill.

Note, however, that phrasing, which is more accurate in the WSJ than in Yahoo.  The provision raises the scope of potential funding for the project, but doesn’t actually appropriate the funds.  The Washington Post notes the difference:

The provision does not allocate $2 billion; rather, it raises the cap for the amount Congress could allocate later. President Obama asked for it in his 2014 budget, and both the House and the Senate had passed bills allowing the increase this year. The House did criticize the Corps of Engineers, saying if it had managed the project better there would not be the need for the “massive increase” in funding authority.

The project, authorized in 1988, is intended to replace two locks and dams that were built in the 1930s.

So who asked for the raise in the cap? McConnell’s team said the request didn’t come from them:

It’s true that McConnell had requested “earmark” funds for this project in the past, according to a database of such requests kept by Legistorm. Did he request that its inclusion in Wednesday’s Senate bill?

“No, he did not,” Don Stewart, McConnell’s spokesman, said in an e-mail message.

Yeah, well, that’s not exactly a credible position, either.  This isn’t an earmark, but it’s similar, and it was standard operating procedure for legislators to swap requests for pork in order to maintain some political cover.  McConnell may not have requested it this time, but he’s pushed for it in the past, and it seems pretty convenient that it ended up in this bill.  The question Cui bono? is never a bad one to ask in these situations.

On the other hand, Harry Reid was defending the cap raise yesterday after it got noticed:

Mr. Reid told reporters that it would have cost the government more if it withheld the money. When the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the money earlier this year, it said that abandoning the project was not a viable option and that it would be cheaper to finish the work than to simply replace the two structures. Replacing the two existing structures could easily exceed $3 billion, which would be in addition to the $1.7 billion that has already been spent on replacement work, a Senate report found. The project was first authorized by Congress in 1988.

So did an unnamed Democratic Senate aide:

If the program had to be shut down and then restarted, one Democratic aide said, the “cost to taxpayers would be an additional $80 million over the next six months, and $160 million if the project were terminated for one year.”

That pressing deadline was the reason that the funding was included in this bill. “Senator McConnell did not push for this provision,” the Democratic aide said.

Frankly, there’s so much bad blood between Reid and McConnell that I’d find it surprising to have Reid taking one for the Senate Minority Leader over a pork-barrel project that puts him in dutch with conservatives.  Reid would like nothing better than to see McConnell fall to a Tea Party primary challenger, in order to have a better chance to grab the seat for Democrats in 2014.  I’m inclined to think that Democrats want to spend the money here, but the economics of it are pretty laughable anyway.  We’re authorizing potential future appropriations of $2 billion to rescue the $1.7 billion already spent in order to save $240 million?  That sounds like Washington, regardless of which person requested it.


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Of course he did.

astonerii on October 17, 2013 at 2:03 PM

And this was the only bill that earmark could be attached..?

d1carter on October 17, 2013 at 2:05 PM

It’s true that McConnell had requested “earmark” funds for this project in the past, according to a database of such requests kept by Legistorm. Did he request that its inclusion in Wednesday’s Senate bill?

“No, he did not,” Don Stewart, McConnell’s spokesman, said in an e-mail message.

And if you can’t trust a US Senator, who can you trust? Please. McConnell is trying to buy enough votes to survive the 2014 election. He needs to get run for being a phony conservative, an ineffective leader, and a porker.

Doughboy on October 17, 2013 at 2:06 PM

How many kilowatts of power will that dam send my way? I don’t live in Kentucky, but I’m helping to pay for it.

Where’s my payback?

fogw on October 17, 2013 at 2:06 PM

The grease that makes government wheels go around…our money.

d1carter on October 17, 2013 at 2:06 PM

My name is Mitch McConnell Dam your eyes…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss_KyPfM1es

mad saint jack on October 17, 2013 at 2:07 PM

This pork in the bill makes me laugh. Add spending to a bill to increase the DL because we are spending too much.

neuquenguy on October 17, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Did McConnell score a kickback in the budget deal?

Hazy, Ed? 2 billion dollars for McConnell’s state blows all the haze completely away.

FloatingRock on October 17, 2013 at 2:12 PM

McConnell absolutely knew this was in the senate bill but did not request it to be removed or put into a stand-alone bill to be voted on the merits. McConnell is DEFINITELY part of the problem.

KickandSwimMom on October 17, 2013 at 2:13 PM

As long as I get my place at the trough:) signed McConnel & Old Guard

P.S. Don’t forget tea baggers we have the same end goals and we are on “the same side”, we just have different “tactics” so shut the f*ck up and let US do our thing.

C-Low on October 17, 2013 at 2:14 PM

The turtle man ain’t talk’n.

onomo on October 17, 2013 at 2:15 PM

LOL at the brilliance of the Democrats for inserting this pork.
RINOs are such idiots.
As Rush said yesterday, Harry Reid’s “I’d like to acknowledge my friend Mitch” was meant to be used in an ad against McConnell. Idiots!

Marcus on October 17, 2013 at 2:18 PM

If the program had to be shut down and then restarted, one Democratic aide said, the “cost to taxpayers would be an additional $80 million over the next six months, and $160 million if the project were terminated for one year.”

Saving taxpayer dollars? A Democrat? That aide sounds suspiciously like what at one time might have passed for a Republican. But a Republican these days? Obviously an ahistorical media fabrication.

de rigueur on October 17, 2013 at 2:20 PM

I wouldn’t be so sure McConnell knew it was there! I bet he didn’t!
What’s he supposed to say? Duhhhh, I didn’t know that was there.

Marcus on October 17, 2013 at 2:20 PM

By all means let’s throw a hissy fit over a bill that doesn’t even spend the money, while nobody notices tens of billions being spent on fraudulent tax credits to illegal aliens, etc. etc. etc. etc.

rockmom on October 17, 2013 at 2:22 PM

So I guess this proves that the going price for your very own personal RINO is a measly $2 billion. Thanks, Mitch, for establishing that!

catsandbooks on October 17, 2013 at 2:27 PM

LOL at the brilliance of the Democrats for inserting this pork.
RINOs are such idiots.
As Rush said yesterday, Harry Reid’s “I’d like to acknowledge my friend Mitch” was meant to be used in an ad against McConnell. Idiots!

Marcus on October 17, 2013 at 2:18 PM

Neat analysis. Either McConnell got himself an earmark, or Reid sandbagged him with one before acknowledging “my friend Mitch.” Another new Shimmer: it’s an earmark AND a sandbag!

And Mitch? Greedy Porker or Hopeless Dupe? You decide.

de rigueur on October 17, 2013 at 2:28 PM

If there’s something in there for McConnell you can darn sure bet Reid the sleeze got something as well.

scalleywag on October 17, 2013 at 2:30 PM

McDonnell wh*red himself out to the dims!
Wh*re! Judas!

annoyinglittletwerp on October 17, 2013 at 2:30 PM

McConnell.

annoyinglittletwerp on October 17, 2013 at 2:32 PM

And in order to recognize the value of non-essential employees…http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2013/10/17/budget-deal-allows-for-january-federal-pay-raise/

scalleywag on October 17, 2013 at 2:36 PM

I was just down there last weekend and there looks to be no more room in that spot to put anything else. Not sure where the heck they are going to put two more locks in there. It’s pretty crowded there already.

Johnnyreb on October 17, 2013 at 2:36 PM

So I guess this proves that the going price for your very own personal RINO is a measly $2 billion. Thanks, Mitch, for establishing that!

catsandbooks on October 17, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Not quite. It depends on who the purchaser is. $2 Billion for a Democrat [using our money]. The price is considerably higher [as in more money than even the Federal Reserve can generate], cash only, for a Conservative or a TEA Party Member. And of course, McConnell would renege on the deal after being paid.

Subotai Bahadur on October 17, 2013 at 2:38 PM

A recent investigation by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found that the project has run millions of dollars over budget and should have been completed “years ago.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that the project will not be fully complete until 2024.

What the hell is this? The Kentucky version of La Sagrada Familia?

The project, authorized in 1988, is intended to replace two locks and dams that were built in the 1930s.

But they still can’t finish it – and finish it on budget? Time to take a long hard look at the Army Corps of Engineers. Lots of money going into lots of pockets.

Hill60 on October 17, 2013 at 2:38 PM

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, …………………….

US budget negotiations 2013

Sen. John McCain distances himself from comments made about Kentucky dam earmark; ‘I do not believe that Senator McConnell was responsible for the ‘anomaly’ earmark for the Olmsted Dam project in last night’s budget deal’ – @SenJohnMcCain

2 hours ago from twitter.com/SenJohnMcCain by editor
========================================================

https://twitter.com/SenJohnMcCain

canopfor on October 17, 2013 at 2:41 PM

You can help rid the Senate of Mitch by going here. Or here.

DavidAllen on October 17, 2013 at 2:41 PM

I call b.s. on Maverick.

Or, if a man who had any intelligence believes such nonsense, it would be inexcusable.

DavidAllen on October 17, 2013 at 2:42 PM

These bastards have a different idea of “clean bill” than I do.

I also love giving an heiress worth millions $160K as part of a budget bill.

Happy Nomad on October 17, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Did McConnell score a kickback in the budget deal?

Is the Pope Catholic? Is Sarah Palin a girl? Is Miguel Cabrera a Tiger?

Another RINO – Lamar Alexander – actually sponsored the amendment. Both McConnell and Alexander are up for re-election in 2014.

bw222 on October 17, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Sen. John McCain distances himself from comments made about Kentucky dam earmark; ‘I do not believe that Senator McConnell was responsible for the ‘anomaly’ earmark for the Olmsted Dam project in last night’s budget deal’

Anomaly earmark? It just jumped into the legislation when nobody was looking?

Happy Nomad on October 17, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Replacement of existing infrastructure first authorized in 1988 and not even scheduled to be completed until 2024? Seriously?

DarkCurrent on October 17, 2013 at 2:45 PM

I noticed this tidbit, last night…………………..

US debt ceiling debate 2013
US budget negotiations 2013

Senate budget bill nearly quadruples funding for Ohio dam project; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., calls allocation ‘disgraceful’ – @foxnewspolitics

17 hours ago from http://www.foxnews.com by editor
===============================================

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/10/17/senate-bill-to-end-partial-shutdown-includes-millions-to-fund-dam-project/

canopfor on October 17, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Ed, hazy is exactly how McConnell likes to operate.

He never has his hands on any outcome.

commodore on October 17, 2013 at 2:47 PM

Hazy?

Lets try not to be idiots, shall we. Here’s a project the McConnell has been trying to earmark for two years that suddenly scored an earmark. Two other Senators actually inserted the language, but without McConnells lobbying efforts on behalf of the project, no one would have realized it existed. Except the state who should have paid for it, Kentucky, luckily represented in the Senate by the originator of the “Kentucky Kickback”.

MTF on October 17, 2013 at 2:48 PM

He needs a dam?
Just a suggestion.
http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/07/regarding-your-dam-complaint.html

katy the mean old lady on October 17, 2013 at 2:49 PM

US Army Corps of Engineers

Locks and Dams
Collapse All Expand All
Click here to expand content Ohio River
Click here to expand content Green River
=========================================

Construction update

The Locks and Dam 52 and 53 Replacement Project, known as the Olmsted Locks and Dam, is under construction between Illinois and Kentucky about 17 miles upstream from the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The locks are complete and work on the dam continues. Olmsted will replace locks and dams 53 and 52 and greatly reduce tow and barge delays through the busiest stretch of river in America’s inland waterways.

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

canopfor on October 17, 2013 at 2:49 PM

MeanWhile,…Who WON, ………………..

US budget negotiations 2013

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on perception Obama ‘won’ budget battle: ‘If that’s winning, it’s not worth winning’; says cost to economy too high – @lesleyclark

28 mins ago from twitter.com/lesleyclark by editor
======================================================

https://twitter.com/lesleyclark

canopfor on October 17, 2013 at 2:52 PM

He needs a dam?
Just a suggestion.
http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/07/regarding-your-dam-complaint.html

katy the mean old lady on October 17, 2013 at 2:49 PM

katy the mean old lady:Lol, d*mn those Beavers,haha:0

canopfor on October 17, 2013 at 2:55 PM

The lock and dam, which is under construction on the Ohio River between Olmsted, Ill., and Monkey’s Eyebrow, Ky.,

Monkey’s Eyebrow? Finally, a replacement name for the Redskins.

TXUS on October 17, 2013 at 2:55 PM

A dam is a peculiar tomb, but whatev’ I guess.

Hurry up and self “term limit”, McConnell.

Jeddite on October 17, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Did McConnell score a kickback in the budget deal?

Yes.

(Note: I do not need a full article to answer this question)

:)

TheRightMan on October 17, 2013 at 2:57 PM

Ditch Mitch! How’s that for a dam fine slogan for whoever runs against this slimy toad. People like him in DC are exactly the reason this country is in debt up to it’s eyelashes.

Kissmygrits on October 17, 2013 at 2:59 PM

HELL yes!!!

Whatever Ed wrote here – which I don’t need to read – OTHER than this, is Establishment Republican BS!!

williamg on October 17, 2013 at 2:59 PM

o/t Did anyone just see the exchange between James Rosen and Jay Blarney about Benghazi? It ended with Blarney cutting him off and scurrying out the room.

50sGuy on October 17, 2013 at 2:59 PM

Monkey’s Eyebrow? Finally, a replacement name for the Redskins.

TXUS on October 17, 2013 at 2:55 PM

TXUS:

Its adjacent to Camel Toe Point,…(snark):)

canopfor on October 17, 2013 at 3:02 PM

… and how much of it will wind up funneled back into his campaign coffers, hmmm?

Look Reid may not like McConnell – but he *knows* McConnell is a spineless wimp that will go along with whatever Reid wants when the pressure gets turned up. Reid does *not* know that about whomever might replace McConnell – a know and controllable devil is better than an unknown one.

I have no problem imagining Reid throwing McConnell some pork to help end the standoff – no problem at all.

Midas on October 17, 2013 at 3:08 PM

A KY Kickback, $174,000 given to Frank Lautenberg’s millionaire widow. So much for that “clean CR” eh you SCOAMT?

jawkneemusic on October 17, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Ed,

It appears you’re looking for some gray in a case of black and white.

Barrack on October 17, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Given our house of cards, no thanks to the nonstop Democrat soundbite blame game threatening de Fault, China downgrades US Dollar credit/value.

fundamentals for a potential default remained “unchanged”

France 24 International News:

The Dagong Chinese ratings agency downgraded its US sovereign credit ratings for US local and foreign currency credit from A to A-, maintaining a negative outlook, warning that fundamentals for a potential default remained “unchanged” despite Washington’s resolution of the debt ceiling deadlock.

maverick muse on October 17, 2013 at 3:13 PM

LOL, ‘hazy’ my a$$.

C’mon, Ed – when did you guys decide to go completely in the tank?

Midas on October 17, 2013 at 3:22 PM

The provision raises the scope of potential funding for the project, but doesn’t actually appropriate the funds.

Ed, listening to Mark Levin, you’d have more credibility in your messaging.

Levin made the point last night, with Ted Cruz, that it’s been years since the House actually conducted business constitutionally via appropriations exercising the power of the purse, just as it’s been years since the Senate submitted a Budget. Obama has usurped the power of the purse from the House. And Republicans applauded the Chief Executive usurping the constitutional role of Congress. Again. This time, Article One twisted perversely.

Our government is running by rote.

Remember, Obama has “inherited” GWBush’s finishing executive order that made the Sec. Treasury autonomous, beholden to no one, NOT accountable to Congress, not accountable to the House, not accountable to government, the public, not even to the private interests of the Federal Reserve.

maverick muse on October 17, 2013 at 3:23 PM

Frankly, there’s so much bad blood between Reid and McConnell

You absolutely do NOT understand.

The next best thing to a “one-party” system for Obama is a “two-party” system where HE controls the opposition party too.

He controls McConnell – he controls Boehner.

He threw McConnell this bone so he could run with it against his primary opponent.

Notice that, even when Obama is dis’ing Boehner – he ALWAYS points out that Boehner himself is a great guy – it’s just those “radicals” behind him that are the problem.

Boehner and McConnell are moles – doing Obama’s bidding while paying lip service to conservative concerns.

HondaV65 on October 17, 2013 at 3:32 PM

So I guess this proves that the going price for your very own personal RINO is a measly $2 billion. Thanks, Mitch, for establishing that!

catsandbooks on October 17, 2013 at 2:27 PM

The best way to bribe someone is with our money. There was a moment of truth opening, but McConnell missed it

I have no problem imagining Reid throwing McConnell some pork to help end the standoff – no problem at all.

Midas on October 17, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Me neither. I have no problem imagining Reid figured McConnell would bite, and end up looking like he cut a deal, which he did

McConnell could have played George Washington and asked the earkmark be removed and not considered until after this bill was completed, out of respect for the American public sense of fair play. George Washington, not

entagor on October 17, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Ed to the rescue…followed soon by a NBC poll saying a majority support. ROFLMAO

winston on October 17, 2013 at 3:54 PM

Somebody primary his corrupt Rino azz.

Anybody.

1921 C DRUM on October 17, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Frankly, there’s so much bad blood between Reid and McConnell that I’d find it surprising to have Reid taking one for the Senate Minority Leader over a pork-barrel project that puts him in dutch with conservatives. Reid would like nothing better than to see McConnell fall to a Tea Party primary challenger, in order to have a better chance to grab the seat for Democrats in 2014.

You’re thinking it the wrong way. Reid is in fear that McConnell will get primaried out of his seat because the candidate who replaces him WILL win. Just like Orrin Hatch was replaced with Mike Lee, which was a smart trade up.

McConnell is already a wounded candidate, and WILL be defeated if he stupidly gets renominated. This latest kickback already wounds him severely. But Reid still needs him like an abusive husband wants the battered wife.

Myron Falwell on October 17, 2013 at 4:38 PM

McConnell didn’t have a clue!! Sarc sarc sarc

mobydutch on October 17, 2013 at 4:43 PM

Note that this is for a project that also benefits DICK Durbin and Obama’s hoime state of Illinois.

Vince on October 17, 2013 at 5:29 PM

You can’t rule out the possibility that Reid inserted that language, knowing that McConnell would be made to suffer from it.

Of course, after McConnell receives his penalty for the Kentucky Kickback, the EPA will simply quash the whole project by using the Endangered Species Act or something.

BobMbx on October 17, 2013 at 5:30 PM

The optics of this is a disaster for McConnell’s re-election.

I believe McRage is exactly right.

Sen. John McCain distances himself from comments made about Kentucky dam earmark; ‘I do not believe that Senator McConnell was responsible for the ‘anomaly’ earmark for the Olmsted Dam project in last night’s budget deal’ – @SenJohnMcCain

canopfor on October 17, 2013 at 2:41 PM

I also firmly believe that Reid put this language in here to stick the knife in McConnell’s back. He doesn’t care that he’ll be dealing with someone new because he is convinced he’ll manage him by his scrotum as well.

I also convinced that what sealed the idea for Reid is that he knew that no one, NO ONE including McConnell would even bother READING the thing before voting on it.

No one in the Senate, and no one in the House. Reid and Pelosi didn’t have to read what what was in it because they put it there and knew it would never be seen.

Obama and Biden didn’t know until it was passed by both Houses because EVERYONE knows neither one of those imbeciles can keep a secret.

My God. I truly fear for this country. We are ruled by the Roman Senate with Julius Caesar at the helm.

Tenwheeler on October 17, 2013 at 5:55 PM

And today, here is McConnell grinning like a dog trying to pass a peach seed.

He’s grinning because he knows he got screwed publicly, and as long as he’s been there, knew better all along, but just couldn’t help himself.

He just HAD to PASS the thing, for…the CHILDREN, or WALL STREET, or the UNIONS, because….DEFAULT!

Tenwheeler on October 17, 2013 at 5:59 PM

. But Reid still needs him like an abusive husband wants the battered wife.

Myron Falwell on October 17, 2013 at 4:38 PM

Nah, The Molester needs a new boy to bash.

Tenwheeler on October 17, 2013 at 6:00 PM

This is the Olmsted Lock and Dams project…it will benefit the whole region and not just Kentucky. The federal government asks for this to be included…not McConnnell and the Army Corps of Engineers has been pushing for it for years. Its purpose to help decrease congestion with barge traffic on the river. That is what this is about. It is not a kickback…but of course the usual suspects will just have to look at the man who pulled their ass out of a sling and find a reason to stab him in the back. Maybe they can help the TP guy running against him win the primary and then sit back and blame the establishment when he loses the seat to a Democrat.

Terrye on October 17, 2013 at 6:20 PM

My God. I truly fear for this country. We are ruled by the Roman Senate with Julius Caesar at the helm.

Tenwheeler on October 17, 2013 at 5:55 PM

This crew did a better job.

BobMbx on October 17, 2013 at 6:46 PM

Neat analysis. Either McConnell got himself an earmark, or Reid sandbagged him with one before acknowledging “my friend Mitch.” Another new Shimmer: it’s an earmark AND a sandbag!

And Mitch? Greedy Porker or Hopeless Dupe? You decide.

de rigueur on October 17, 2013 at 2:28 PM

What’s the difference? Unfit to serve, in either case.

Take some of the $2B and go buy a chin, Mitch. And a spine.

bofh on October 17, 2013 at 7:48 PM

Take some of the $2B and go buy a chin, Mitch. And a spine.

And a clue.

bofh on October 17, 2013 at 7:49 PM

I just saw on Chris Hayes’ show that Lamar Alexander claims HE put in in the bill, despite the fact that McConnell and Reid wrote it. As Hayes’ said: “The Senator who isn’t running again is playing the role of the wife who states “My husband couldn’t have done the crime. He was home that night with me.”” IOW, providing the alibi.

Marcus on October 17, 2013 at 8:42 PM

…turkey neck is a crook!

KOOLAID2 on October 17, 2013 at 10:39 PM