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Responding to the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Sen. John McCain said that if less money had been spent on earmarked projects in highway reauthorization bills, then more money could be spent on bridge repairs.
McCain is right. Bridge repair and bridge construction are authorized in the same bill. But of course, members of Congress would prefer to cut ribbons on new projects rather than see money go to less sexy repair projects.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., recently unveiled a new plan to invest $65-billion immediately in replacing or repairing bridges. Rather than redirecting money in the highway bill, Oberstar has proposed establishing a dedicated fund for bridge repair. But raising that $65-billion within the federal budget would be a huge problem.
Inspector General, U.S. Department of Transportation, Review of Congressional Earmarks
Interviews with former Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., and Keith Ashdown, chief investigator, Taxpayers for Common Sense
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