During a conference call with reporters today, the McCain campaign tried to push back against Florida environmental groups who have criticized Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for opposing a bill that would have allocated $2 billion for Everglades restoration. The campaign claimed that the senator has strong environmental credentials and argued that he has “always stood for Everglades restoration,” and only opposed the 2007 Water Resources Development Act because it included “other spending”:
REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART (R-FL): The only thing that cannot be said is that he voted against that bill because he is against Everglades restoration. … He has always been in favor of Everglades restoration. … He voted against it because of other spending. … What is totally inaccurate is to say that he voted against Everglades restoration.
But McCain’s argument that he often votes against causes he supports because those bills contain “wasteful earmarks” does not hold water. In May 2007, by his own admission, McCain voted for a $120 billion dollar Iraq war funding measure, despite the fact that it contained $17 billion in “other spending.” Speaking on the floor of the Senate the day the bill passed, McCain said he was voting for the bill “with deep reservations”:
McCAIN: We are about to pass a bill that while better than the last version, still contains billions of dollars that have nothing to do with the War on Terror. We can do better than this. The American taxpayers deserve and expect more.
During his speech McCain even listed “some of the un-requested and un-authorized items contained in this bill”:
– $110 million in aid to the shrimp and fisheries industries;
– $11 million for flood control projects in New York and New Jersey;
– $37 million to modernize the Farm Service Agency’s computer system;
– $13 million for the Save America’s Treasures program; and,
– $3 billion in agriculture disaster assistance, including $22 million to support the Department of Agriculture in implementing programs to provide this un-requested and unauthorized funding.
Despite the bill’s “irresponsible” spending, McCain promised to “vote for it nonetheless in order to support our brave men and women fighting for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
McCain thinks funding the environment is too pricey, but he is willing to support the Iraq war at any cost.
Cross-posted at the Wonk Room.
Sam Stein reports that Diaz-Balart, in explaining why he voted for a bill that McCain opposed, was attempting to argue that McCain is more principled than him.