News & Politics

Mitch McConnell Made Sure to Include Kentucky-Kickback in Debt Ceiling Bill

Conservative critics accuse Kentucky senator of selling out to Obamacare to fund pet project.

With the country's economic fate, and that of hundreds of thousands government employees and their dependents, hanging in the balance, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made sure to extract his pound of flesh. The bill he crafted with  Majority leader Harry Reid includes a nice piece of pork for McConnell's pet project at home, a Kentuck state dam. The allocation is said to be about $3 million.

Considered a vital project for the state and entire region (largely meant to control water traffic that flows along the Ohio rivier), the project was first mentioned by the Courier-Journal's James Bruggers in 2011, when he reported that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needed a reported $2.1 billion due to stop-and-go funding. In the two years since, the number has gone up and reached closer to $2.9 billion.

Criticism for the earmark came from the Senate Conservatives Fund, whose executive director, Matt Hoskins, said:

"Americans are familiar with the 'Cornhusker Kickback' that Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson was given in exchange for his vote on Obamacare. Well now Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell has an Obamacare earmark of his own.

"The McConnell-Reid deal not only funds Obamacare and suspends the debt limit, it also includes a provision in Section 123 that increases funding for the Olmsted Locks and Dam in Kentucky from $775 million to $2.9 billion.

"In exchange for funding Obamacare and raising the debt limit, Mitch McConnell secured a $2 billion Kentucky kickback.

"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.

"Mitch McConnell is trying to blame others for this abuse, but everyone knows he negotiated this deal and everyone knows he wrote the bill. If he didn't want the earmark included, he could have kept it out.

"Also, this isn't the first time he has supported funds for this project. He also requested $100 million for it in 2010.

"This is what's wrong with Washington and it's what's wrong with Mitch McConnell."



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Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.