WASHINGTON – As the world breathes a sigh of relief with the House and Senate passing a bill this week to reopen the American government and avoid default on the country’s debt, a little-noticed provision in the bill providing nearly $3 billion for a project in Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky has shed some light on just how, exactly, the Democrats convinced the GOP to roll over and play dead.
“We paid him off,” explains Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chair of the Energy and Water subcommittee that sponsored the provision. “We’d gotten them to give up on gutting Obamacare or forcing trans-vaginal ultrasounds on every woman in America but still McConnell wouldn’t budge. Finally, I asked him what was it going to take. He said cash. Cold, hard cash.”
The provision in question increases funding for the Olmstead Dam Lock in Paducah, Kentucky from $775 million to almost $2.9 billion. In 2011, the U.S. Amy Corps of Engineers said they needed $2.1 billion for the dam, which is considered important to water traffic along the Ohio River.
“I have no problem with the Olmstead project,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “It needs to be done. So I was happy to include the $2.1 billion if it would grease the Republican gears and re-open the government. It was only when Mitch starting jerking his thumb higher and higher at the amount did I realize we were getting fleeced.”
Asked why Senate Republican support for avoiding catastrophic, economic default on our nation’s debt was linked to getting the increased amount earmarked to the project, McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer tried to put things in perspective. “Look, $800 million dollars may not seem like a lot of money to blue state folks in New York or California, but in Kentucky, that’s a damn fortune,” he said. “Mitch just wanted to make sure he got enough to live high on the hog after he’s primaried out of a job by some damned teabagger.”
According to a statement from Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the ranking Republican on the Energy and Water subcommittee, the provision to spend $3 billion on the project was done to save taxpayers money. “According to the Army Corps of Engineers, 160 million taxpayer dollars will be wasted because of canceled contracts if this language is not included,” the statement reads.
Upon reading Alexander’s statement, McConnell just giggled. “Whatever. I got my kickback. I’m happy.”