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October 25, 2005

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Sen. Coburn's office emails:

Constituent phone calls [regarding the antipork Coburn Amendment] from 10/17/05 to 10/21/05


Out of state calls for Coburn HUD/Trans Appropriation amendments (including a dozen Alaskans and 2 dozen from the state of Washington).

Pro 256 Con 0

In-state calls for Coburn HUD/Trans Appropriation amendments

Pro 121 Con 0

Should Members of Congress forgo their annual automatic pay raise and put the savings toward Hurricane Katrina recovery costs?


Yes 91%
No 9%

678 total vote(s)

Pretty good stuff; no wonder Coburn is hanging tough. And no wonder other folks in the Senate don't want this to gather momentum.

Meanwhile, reader J.A.M. emails:

Here's a link to my post about the response I received from two out of three of my Washington representatives from Michigan:

http://www.synyx.com/2005/10/porkbusters-response.html

I'm not impressed at all with Senator Levin's email, but Congressman Ehlers gets at least a B for his. No word from Debbie Stabenow.

Reader Sudi Beheshti emails:

I emailed my congressman, Sam Johnson, R - 3rd District, TX, regarding helping with the effort to cut spending. Here's his response. He doesn't talk about specific cuts, but it seems to be a better than average form letter!!

Thanks for all your efforts in the PorkBusters project!

(Johnson's letter is in the Extended Entry area -- click "more" to read it).

And reader Julie Martin-Korb emails about what's happening in Maryland:

In September, I wrote to Maryland Senators Sarbanes (D) and Milkulski (D) and Representative Chris Van Hollen (D) suggesting that the federal highway funds earmarked for the Montgomery-Prince George’s InterCounty Connector (ICC) be donated to Katrina relief. I previously forwarded to you and posted on Porkbusters the non-response I received from Senator Sarbanes. I have not yet heard from Sen. Mikulski or Rep. Van Hollen.

I also wrote to Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich (R) with the same suggestion. I called upon him to lead the way for other state governors and demonstrate the compassion of the people of Maryland by donating the federal ICC funds to Katrina relief. Today I received a two-page responsive letter from Robert L. Flanagan, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Flanagan's response is also below -- click "More" to read it.

Letter from Sam Johnson:

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Thank you for contacting me regarding the budget and wasteful spending. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

Earlier this year, our economy was growing and our deficits were falling. The deficit we faced was largely due to the costs of our war against terrorism. Then the gulf coast was devastated by two hurricanes, causing our deficits to rise even more.

Our priorities include dealing with the aftermath of the hurricanes. At the same time, throwing money to the devastated region won't make
our problems there disappear. Congress needs to use caution in selecting where to focus our limited resources. There are many long-term displaced workers, students, and families as a result of this hurricane season and Congress has worked hard to make sure that they are able to continue their education and find employment.

When it comes to rebuilding the devastated areas, folks in Washington aren't in a position to know what Gulf Coast residents need. It's best to let the private sector drive most of the rebuilding. I support
legislation designed to encourage growth by offering incentives to the people and businesses that are going into the devastated areas and
working to make it inhabitable once more. Congress needs to make wise decisions about our public investments in infrastructure. You should also know that I am looking at ways to offset the money going to the Gulf Coast region.

I am hopeful that once we get through these times of immediate crisis, we will be able to seek out a means to balance the budget. I want our children and grandchildren to inherit the American dream, not the American debt. I appreciate knowing of your support for eliminating wasteful spending. You can count on me to be fiscally responsible as I represent you and the Third Congressional District of Texas. Thank you again for contacting me.

Sincerely,
Sam Johnson
Member of Congress

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Robert Flanagan's letter follows:

___

“President George W. Bush recently announced that federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone, from roads and bridges to schools and water systems. In addition, Congress has passed, and President Bush has signed, legislation authorizing more than $60 billion in assistance. These funds will carry out the first stages of the relief effort and begin the rebuilding. Please be assured that the State of Maryland is providing a range of services to the victims of Hurricane Katrina to meet the emergency needs of those impacted by the disaster. Maryland is providing her sister states with the staff, equipment, and resources they need during this difficult time…

“The funding plan for the ICC, which the Maryland General Assembly endorsed during its 2005 session, includes a combination of creative funding sources, with the goal of making the maximum amount of funds available for other projects across the State while the ICC is being built. Accordingly, the ICC will be funded using Maryland Transportation Authority toll revenue bonds; Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles (GARVEE) bonds (which, as the name implies are repaired with future federal highway funds); and State and federal funds to be expended on a pay-as-you-go-basis…”

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Julie Martin-Korb observes: "So, not only our current but also our anticipated future federal pork will be donated to this road, which was dubbed by the Taxpayers for Common Sense as 'the most wasteful road project in America.'"