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McCain: After ‘Symbolic’ Victory, No Further Plans to Strip House CR ‘Pork’

Mar. 14, 2013 - 02:34PM   |  
By JOHN T. BENNETT   |   Comments
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WASHINGTON — There are no plans to try to strip additional House-approved earmarks for projects the Pentagon does not want from a Senate bill that keeps the federal government open, says Sen. John McCain.

On Wednesday evening, the Arizona Republican and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., scored what McCain dubbed a “symbolic” victory when the Senate approved an amendment to its version of a 2013 continuing resolution (CR) that removes about $140 million for Guam.

McCain said he was upset the House Appropriations Committee inserted the funding for civilian facilities for Guam — and billions of dollars for other items — that the Senate Armed Services Committee did not approve in its 2013 Pentagon policy legislation.

In a joint statement issued Tuesday evening, McCain and Coburn slammed the House’s version of the CR for proposing “$120 million for civilian infrastructure in Guam, which both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees explicitly prohibited.”

“I think we won a symbolic vote yesterday. It was far more important than $140 million,” McCain told Defense News. “What it showed was that there’s enough people — barely — to prevent the appropriators from overriding the authorizers.

McCain said the House’s inclusion of the Guam funding, as well as other items totaling $6.4 billion such as preventing the Army from retiring cargo planes it no longer wants to Pacific Coast salmon restoration, showed “we haven’t really changed around here. ... the old bulls who run the Appropriations committees still run things.”

McCain and Coburn briefly held up the Senate’s version of a bill intended to keep the federal government running until Sept. 31. That move came after veteran lawmakers and their staffs found nearly 60 programs in a 2013 Pentagon appropriations bill that is attached to both chambers’ CRs.

The GOP senators have expressed concern about a provision that “directs the Department of Defense to overpay on contracts by an additional 5 percent (totaling $15 million) to contractors who are Native Hawaiian-owned companies,” according to the joint statement.

Coburn and McCain also have qualms with another provision that “provides $154 million for Army, Navy and Air Force ‘alternative energy research’ initiatives.” Their objection? They claim recent data shows that program is “paying $26 per gallon for 450,000 gallons of alternative fuel,” according to the statement.

The veteran lawmakers also criticized a part of the House’s DoD spending bill that would prohibit the Army from retiring C-23 Sherpa cargo planes. The duo noted in their statement that no governor spoke up when asked if they had interest in the aging Sherpas.

McCain has dubbed the 60 programs as “pork” and “stupid.”

A House Appropriations Committee spokeswoman said in an email that the panel does not disclose which members requested various items in any of its spate of yearly spending measures.

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