Reid-McConnell deal to avert default included $3 billion kickback for McConnell’s home state of Kentucky (Update)

Reid-McConnell deal to avert default included $3 billion kickback for McConnell’s home state of Kentucky (Update)
Cut from the same cloth
Cut from the same cloth

The Wall Street Journal ran an item yesterday about a small Alaskan town whose mayor over the past 16 years has a been a house cat. Maybe we should try electing furry friends to positions of power in D.C. because the current arrangement just isn’t working.

A number of sources are reporting this morning that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s deal with Majority Leader Harry Reid included a $3 billion- dollar “donation” to McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. You wouldn’t know it by reading the relevant language in the draft of the agreement, which in Section 23 states:

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.’

Louisville radio station WFPL explains that the provision increases funding for a dam (damn?) project in Paducah from $775 million to more than $2.9 billion. A video report on the project notes that it’s been in the works since 1993.

The station, which identifies itself as “part of the NPR digital network,” goes on to note that the dam is an important project for the state and region. I don’t doubt that it is but still come away with a bad taste in my mouth knowing that it is business as usual inside the Beltway.

Matt Hoskins, executive director of a grassroots organization called the State Conservatives Fund, compares the McConnell sellout to the “Cornhusker Kickback” that Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson received in exchange for his vote on Obamacare, then adds:

This is an insult to Kentucky families who don’t want to pay for Obamacare and who don’t want to shoulder any more debt.

One of the comments following the article reads, “Just made my first $50 donation to Matt Bevin, primary challenger for Mitch McConnell.” The money might be better spent grooming a feline for the job.

UPDATE: Hans Bader has directed my attention to an article at The Hill by Rebecca Shabad that provides a rebuttal by Mitch McConnell to claims that he engaged in a quid pro quo in signing the agreement last night to end the government shutdown. Here is the article:

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday denied slipping an earmark into the budget deal Congress passed one day earlier.

“There was no earmark,” McConnell told WVLK radio in Lexington, Ky., Thursday morning.

The Army Corps of Engineers asked for the funding, he said, and so did the White House.

The deal, passed by Congress late Wednesday and signed by President Obama just after midnight Thursday, included a $2.9 billion for a system of locks under construction at the Olmsted Dam. It’s situated where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers meet near McConnell’s home state.

McConnell’s office told The Hill on Wednesday night that the senator wasn’t involved in the funding increase for the project in Kentucky.

“Every single member of the Senate had a chance to review it and none asked for it to be taken out,” he said in the radio interview.

The Senate Conservatives Fund labeled the provision the “Kentucky Kickback.”

The government reopened Thursday after being closed for 16 days as result of Republicans’ demands for ObamaCare to first be defunded or its provisions delayed.

McConnell expressed regret for “spending several weeks on an impossible dream that many of us have.”

“We’d love to see ObamaCare gone,” he said. “The only way to do that is to make me majority leader.” McConnell is currently running for reelection in 2014.

The conservative wing of the GOP said it’s not giving up the fight to bring down the three-year-old healthcare law.

But for now, McConnell said, “It’s clear that Democrats are not gonna blink.”

I was additionally informed by Matt Sheffield of Newsbusters that the additional funds pumped into the project were a response to an Obama administration initiative to revitalize the project.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.

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