Sen. George Voinovich toured areas of Northwest Ohio yesterday, viewing flood damage and meeting with officials to discuss their response to the storms and their needs going forward.
According to this Blade article, Voinovich says our nation's spending priorities are wrong, bashing the spending in Iraq while criticizing the President for trimming "infrastructure-related budgets - those that deal with items such as rivers, highways, and bridges - because they are too costly."
Voinovich said, "he is frustrated because Americans don't realize how vulnerable the country's infrastructure is and how far behind improvements are.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which addresses flood control, is operating with less federal money and too few engineers, he said."
Unfortunately, Sen. Voinovich seems to have forgotten that the President doesn't spend the money, Congress does. The President requests and submits budgets, but it's Congress who makes the final decision.
And the opportunity the Senator missed? His vote on the recently passed Transportation bill.
I've previously blogged about Sen. Tom Coburn's amendments to cut pork out of this bill. Sen. Coburn's amendment to halt earmarks until all deficient bridges and roads were repaired failed. His amendment to eliminate federal spending on bike paths also failed. His amendment to remove three specific earmarks (baseball stadium, peace garden and tourist 'discovery' center) totaling $1.35 million also failed. In fact, the pork in this bill totaled $8 Billion - yes, Billion with a B - and that's 13.5% of the Transportation Department's $63 billion spending plan.
According to all media reports I could find, Sen. Voinovich voted against these three amendments and then voted for the bill, basically agreeing that $8 billion in pork was more important than other priorities of the federal government - like the Army Corps of Engineers which he says is short money and engineers.
Sen. Voinovich certainly got good press coverage by comparing spending in Iraq to spending on infrastructure, especially in The Blade. But his complaint sounds a bit hollow when his actual votes are taken into consideration.
If it's true that Congress has their spending priorities mixed up - and I'm the first to agree this is the case - it's because of votes like those cast by Voinovich. Sen. Voinovich - if you're going to complain about lack of funds for priorities, you need to vote against non-constitutional spending like baseball stadiums, peace gardens and bike paths.