"In 1996, one year after the Republican takeover, a full 512 out of the 535 members of Congress had a record that reducednot increasedoverall discretionary outlays. Yes, before Republicans lost their way, even the traditional big-spending Democrats were running scared and voting to cut the budget.
"Remember the days when Republicans used to make fun of Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the king of pork who ran the Senate Appropriations Committee with an iron fist? The GOP promised things would change if we put them in charge. They did! In the 2005 budget, Ted Stevens, the Republican who now chairs that committee, set aside $646 million in pork for his state of Alaska. Byrd's $399 million for West Virginia paled by comparison.
"The latest outrage occurred last week when Dr. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the freshman senator who travels home every weekend to take care of patients and stay connected to the real world, asked the Senate to cut a half billion dollars set aside for two Alaskan bridges that have been tucked into the highway bill. The Senate says it is looking for offsets for Katrina spending. Don't believe it!
"The first bridge would connect Ketchikan, a fishing village of 8,900 to an island with 50 residents and a small airport, even though a ferry runs every 15 minutes. According to USA Today, this boondoggle will be nearly as long as the Golden Gate and higher than the Brooklyn Bridge.
"The second bridge would connect Anchorage to a network of swamps and an 'ice' burg with one resident. They are essentially 'bridges to nowhere.' A logical place to cut, but no! Coburn was joined by only 14 other senators.
"Incidentally, John McCain, R-Ariz., who at least once a year makes pork a big issue, wasn't among them." ...
S.Amdt. 2165 to H.R. 3058
Senate Roll Call Vote #262: 15-82
Sen. Coburn also offered a similar amendment to "prohibit any funds under the Act from being used for a parking facility as part of the Joslyn Art Museum Master Plan, in Omaha, Nebraska":
S.Amdt. 2093 to H.R. 3058
Senate Roll Call Vote #260: 86-13
Incidentally, the numbers are nearly flipped because #260 was a vote to "table" (or ignore/reject) the amendment, while #262 was a vote on passage. Also, Sen. McCain supported Sen. Coburn's efforts on this amendment.