July 17, 2007
What's in your wallet?
What's a paltry one million dollars to a member of Congress?
Well, apparently not enough to know if an organization about to receive that big block of cash actually exists.
Republican Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, the fiscal crusader who's never met an earmark he likes, questioned Democratic Rep. Peter J. Visclosky of Indiana on the House floor Tuesday about whether the Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure actually exists - since, hey, it's getting like a million bucks or something.
Visclosky, who chairs the spending subcommittee responsible for the project, had to admit that, well, he didn't have a clue.
After a lengthy back-and-forth, Flake, complaining that his staff couldn't find a website for the center, asked Visclosky, "Does the center currently exist?"
"At this time, I do not know," the Indiana Democrat replied. "But if it does not exist, the monies could not go to it."
And who could possibly be the sponsor of such an earmark? Yes, you guessed it, the man Republicans love to hate, Pennsylvania Democrat John P. Murtha.
Despite the money's uncertain destination, the House rejected Flake's measure to strike the funds, 326-98. And the Visclosky bill also sailed through, 312-112.
As I said, what's one million dollars to a member of Congress?