• August 18, 2021

Perlmutter defends the infamous bridge to nowhere and spending on pork barrels

US Representative Ed Perlmutter previewed a key point of his re-election strategy: Return Congressional appropriations, better known as pork barrel spending to Washington DC

Pork barrel spending allows members of Congress to file appropriation requests for special projects in their districts, a practice that critics say can easily be abused as a corrupt form of patronage.

Democrats used Congressional appropriations again this year under President Biden after a 10-year hiatus.

The practice was suspended in 2011 by House Republicans after a setback for a $ 223 million allocation secured by then-US Senator from Alaska, Ted Stevens, for a bridge to connect Gravina Island to Ketchikan, Alaska in 2005.

Ketchikan is a tourist and fishing destination, but Gravina Island was home to only 50 people at the 2000 census.

“[Stevens] it was being a senator from Alaska, which is very sparsely populated anyway, and doing what I thought was right, “Perlmutter said on a liberal blog earlier this week.

That’s one way of putting it.

The original idea for the bridge originated with a proposal from a private prison company to build a prison on Gravina Island in 2002. The proposal for the prison contributed not only to the idea of ​​a bridge and its subsequent allocation, but ultimately instance, to the exposure of a wide-ranging political scandal. in Alaska that also caught Stevens.

Sarah Palin also initially championed the project during her run for governor of Alaska after it came under fire.

In the 2008 presidential race, US Senator John McCain made clear his opposition to the project, which he considered a wasteful expense.

Ultimately, the allocation collapsed after intense opposition from US Senator Tom Coburn for Oklahoma, but funding for the new “Gravina Island Access Project” continued until 2015.

All that remains of the federally funded project is now $ 28 million relatively useless “road to nowhere” on Gravina Island that leads to a cul-de-sac, along with a 700-foot $ 11 million tunnel that connects the highway to the island’s airport.

Even though congressional appropriations have long been tied to this kind of waste, Perlmutter said he opposed suspending the practice from “the beginning,” arguing that it was better for members of Congress to decide how dollars are spent. federal governments in their districts than the federal government.

Voters overwhelmingly disagree, to put it mildly.

TO Morning consultation The poll earlier this year showed that support for the appropriations was recorded by only 19% of all registered voters.

Perlmutter’s early decision to campaign on federal waste may bother you again if Colorado’s Independent Redistricting Commission draws something in its revised 7th district that looks like a proposed map released by the commission earlier this summer.

The commission’s draft proposal would give Republicans a three-point record advantage in the seventh, as opposed to the current significant advantage of Democrats in the Perlmutter district.

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