Yesterday, the conservative Washington Times published an article titled “Pelosi’s mouse slated for $30M slice of cheese” that claimed the House Speaker had stuck millions into the economic recovery package for the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse in San Francisco. The report, which originated from an e-mail to reporters by a spokesman for House Republican Leader John Boehner, quickly became part of the GOP’s talking points against the bill.
But the Washington Times report was wrong. “There is no language in the bill that says this money will go to this project,” admitted Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.
Though the claim has been thoroughly debunked, House Republicans continued to attack it on the House floor yesterday. After “a testy exchange” over the fabrication between Rep. David Obey (D-WI) and House Republicans on the House floor yesterday, Fox News’ William Lajeunesse attempted to “separate fact from fiction”:
LAJEUNESSE: Alexis, you won’t find it in the bill. That is true. However, it is there. Now, what I mean by this. This is what Republicans call a phantom earmark. It’s $50 million for ecosystem restoration, habitat restoration in the San Francisco Bay area, for Congresswoman Pelosi’s district, which is a priority project for that agency there. There is no question that this will be funded when this money is released to the EPA as well as to Fish and Wildlife.
In fact, there is a very real “question” about whether the project, which is on a list of “shovel-ready” projects recommended by the California Coastal Conservancy, will be funded. The Mercury News reported on Thursday that because projects like wetland restoration aren’t named in the biil, “there’s no guarantee” they will get money:
Even if the stimulus passes, there’s no guarantee the projects will get the money, since they’re not named in the bill. That will be up to the Army Corps of Engineers, which does everything from harbor dredging to building dams to restoring wetlands.
Abruptly transitioning to what he called “real pork projects” in the recovery plan, Lajeunesse brought up “the train from Disneyland to Las Vegas.” But, as Matt Yglesias points out, this provision isn’t in the bill either. “There’s no special plan for Las Vegas. The money will be spread all across the country,” writes Yglesias.
Obey was incorrectly identified as a Republican in the post. We have corrected the error.