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PorkBusters update: Rep. Udall responds

Posted by Richard on October 19, 2005

PorkBusters -- Help the blogosphere cut the fatNearly a month after I contacted Colorado’s senators and representatives regarding the six projects I identified for PorkBusters, I’ve finally received my second response. This one’s from Rep. Mark Udall of the 2nd Congressional District (which includes the People’s Republic of Boulder), and it’s certainly a big improvement over the utterly non-responsive piece of crap I got from Sen. Salazar.

Udall actually echoed back to me part of what I said and addressed it. So this is at least a better-targeted form letter. (In fact, I hope that it’s a form letter — that means a congresscritter in Colorado’s most liberal district got so many requests to cut highway pork that his staff created a letter specifically for that topic.)

Udall didn’t specifically address the projects I asked about, of course, and he dismissed the idea of rejecting all earmarks. Instead, he described a bill he’s introduced that’s mildly interesting. Here’s his letter in full:

Dear Mr. Combs:

Thank you for letting me know you support canceling some parts of the recently-passed transportation policy act to offset costs of responding to the recent hurricanes. I appreciate your getting in touch.

Even before the hurricanes, the budget was in deep deficit from budget policies defying the laws of fiscal gravity. Now, the president has said other spending should be cut to help pay for rebuilding the Gulf Coast. I don’t know what cuts will be proposed, but it’s clearly time for a serious debate, and to jump-start it, I’ve introduced H. R. 3966, the Simulating Leadership In Cutting Expenditures (or "SLICE") Act.

Currently, Congress can ignore a presidential proposal to cancel specific spending. Under my bill, there would be a vote, up or down, on each presidential proposal to cut something from the transportation bill.

Some oppose all spending "earmarks" proposed by Members of Congress. I don’t. I think we know our communities’ needs and should use our judgment on spending tax dollars. So, I have sought earmarks for Colorado and will do so again. But some earmarks might not be approved if Congress had to vote on them separately. That’s where "SLICE" comes in. It’s a workable and constitutional alternative to the line-item veto, to further Presidential leadership and Congressional accountability. I will work for its enactment. And in the meantime, if the House of Representatives considers canceling spending for specific transportation projects, I will remember your views.

Thanks again for contacting me. I see my job as more than voting on legislation. I also want to try to bridge divides and bring people together to solve problems. So, I welcome your letters and e-mails and always listen closely to what you and other Coloradans have to say. For more information, visit my web site at http://markudall.house.gov/HoR/CO02/home.htm and sign up for my e-mail newsletters.

I have to wonder if the bill name is a typo. Did he really mean "Simulating Leadership" or is it supposed to be "Stimulating Leadership"? As for the idea — well, it’s a sorry second to a line-item veto, but I suppose it could actually help. It’s hard to say. If the President proposed cuts, would Congress think twice about voting to reject them, or would these votes just become a pro forma exercise?

For that matter, the Prez has never vetoed a spending bill — how many line-item cuts would he propose?

In any case, Udall gets props for being responsive (and I’m not even a constituent) and for actually coming up with a substantive and perhaps even useful proposal.

He loses a letter grade for passivity, lack of leadership, and unwillingness to commit regarding specific, real cuts: he’s waiting to see what the Prez proposes, and if the House (not him, someone else) considers cuts, he’ll remember my views. Yeah, whatever.

I give him a C+. Better than Salazar’s F. The rest are Incompletes. Or unexcused absences?

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! While you’re here, please take a look around. Maybe Better rubber through biotech will grab you. If politics interest you, take a look at  Condi in Central Asia or The one thing Bush gets right. Or see if any of the titles listed on the left look intriguing. I appreciate you stopping by. And if you haven’t done so yet, go see Serenity!

UPDATE 2: According to Udall’s website, H.R. 3966 was introduced by Udall, Steve Chabot (R-OH), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO). I suppose it’s nice that he’s reaching across party lines, but isn’t the letter a bit misleading, suggesting that this is solely his project? I was right about the typo — it is "Stimulating Leadership." 

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One Response to “PorkBusters update: Rep. Udall responds”

  1. Jim H. said

    Porkbusters might be interested in WashingtonWatch.com. The site collects information about the costs of pending legislation and reports it per family, per person, etc. So you can see where the money goes . . . .

    Homepage:

    http://www.washingtonwatch.com

    Recent compilation on Katrina spending:

    http://washingtonwatch.com/ww/html/katrina.html

    (Please forgive the shameless plug.)

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