Even though Senate Republicans banned earmarks in November, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) promised yesterday afternoon that he will find a way to circumvent that ban in order get his pet project funded, even if it means voting against the short-term continuing resolution Congress is now considering to fund the government:
Graham said there are plans to put language in the continuing budget resolution for the current year authorizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spend some of its own money so the study is not delayed further.
It will not mention Charleston specifically or include a dollar amount but Graham says corps officials told him they could put in between $50,000 and $100,000.
“The state is ready to write the check for the rest tomorrow. We just need to get the corps authorization to spend the money,” he said, adding he will oppose any continuing budget without the provision.
“Is that an earmark?” Graham rhetorically asked reporters. “I don’t know what you call it. To me it makes sense.” Graham’s more conservative South Carolina colleague, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), supports the project, but not Graham’s funding method. He’s proposing an independent commission that would assess the merits of Army Corps projects, instead of allowing lawmakers to direct projects through earmarks.
While the port deepening may be a worthy project, Graham’s promise to fund it by any means necessary conflicts with the GOP’s stance on earmarks — and his own comments. A few months ago, Graham called earmarks “abuses” of power that lead “many to question our willingness to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.” And just last month, Graham said, “Taking a time out on earmarking, I think, would be good to just show the American people that we’re not totally living on different planet from you.” Watch it: