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Begging for a Stupak scandal

March 24, 2010 - Jim Anderson
Begging for a Stupak scandal

The National Republican Congressional Committee wonders if Democrat Bart Stupak will “come clean” about an “apparent backroom deal” for his support of health care reform.

The committee’s Deal Watch Blog reports that Stupak’s congressional district was awarded $762,409 in grants just two days before Sunday’s health care vote.

There is, however, something puzzling about the accusation.

The grants were for airport improvements. In fiscal year 2010, many of these same Federal Aviation Administration grants are going to districts represented by Republicans — none of whom voted for health care reform.

The grants in Stupak’s district are going to three airports, including one for $179,209 to the Delta County Airport in Escanaba. The money will be used to install a 10 foot perimeter fence to enhance security and prevent wildlife from entering.

Curiously, The FAA is awarding funding this year to airports not just in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District, but in 46 other states. The list includes 11 airports in Alaska that are in the statewide district represented by Republican Don Young. FAA grants in Alaska alone total more than $56 million.

Rep. Young, by the way, has called passage of the health care reform bill “shameful.”

Nonetheless, in discussing Stupak and the Michigan airport grants on Monday night, Fox’s Sean Hannity wondered, “Airport kickback?”

Stupak says individuals and organizations who are trying to draw a line from the airport grants to his health care vote are “grasping at straws.”

“It is absurd to think I would change my vote for a tow truck and fence to keep deer from walking onto the runway of an airport in Escanaba,” he said.

It’s a mistake, of course, to be naive about congressmen and federal grants. The process of awarding funds is by no means void of politics. But neither is every grant simply partisan, or a form of direct legislative bribery.

Unless, I suppose, your mind works like Sean Hannity’s.

Congressman Stupak’s opponents would do better to look elsewhere. Surely, they can do better than begging for a scandal over annual FAA maintenance grants.


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