Sunday, February 15, 2009

King's mouse a red herring

According to the non-partisan PolitiFact, U.S. Rep. Steve King and other Republicans are flat out distorting when they claim the federal stimulus package contains $30 million to protect a certain species of mouse in California.

There are no earmarks for specific projects and to suggest that a project which is on a shovel ready list that the Corp of Engineers or other federal agencies will select from is outrageous.

If you follow King's logic then a San Francisco congresswoman could criticize the bill for having $7 million in it for a new Carroll Public Library because that's the amount Carroll City Councllwoman Carolyn Siemann asked to be put in a list of projects Carroll sent to the state for possible stimulus spending.

Here is PolitiFact:

When the stimulus bill was first proposed and a call went out for ready-to-go projects, Ritchie prepared a list of the agency's shovel-ready projects and submitted it to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, both of which received money in the final version of the stimulus bill.

Three projects would turn abandoned industrial salt operations back into natural wetlands, about 26,000 acres in all. It turns out the mouse is an endangered species that likes tidal salt marshes, and it's mentioned by name as one of several species that will benefit.

But the projects themselves -- the South Bay Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, the Napa Plant Site, and the Napa Salt Marsh restoration --are intended to do more than just benefit wildlife. It's major construction work to create recreation areas and to restore marsh land that will resist flooding and storm surge.

"This is bulldozers, front-end loaders, backhoes. These are major earth-moving projects to break down levees, to re-sculpt the landscape and to make sure nature can do its thing," Ritchie said. "Right now, we just have these lousy little salt pond levees and they break."

"These are real jobs, and these are truly ready to go," he added. "We can definitely spend this money for construction by Nov. 30, 2010."

Given this description of the projects, which were first reported in the San Jose Mercury News, it's a serious distortion to say there's money in the bill to protect San Francisco mice. The bill doesn't even list the San Francisco projects by name. And the funding agencies -- the Corps of Engineers or NOAA -- could still decide to fund the projects or not. The bill passed a final vote in the House on Feb. 13, with no Republicans supporting it.

So Pelosi did not put an earmark in the bill to save the mice. In fact, there's no money in the bill for mice. For this reason, we rate Pence's remark False.


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