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Rehberg Protects Infamous 'Bridge to Nowhere', Tester Targets Wasteful Rehberg-Era Earmark

Tester looks to cut spending to pay down debt, while Rehberg can't step away from the government trough

Helena, Mont. – Congressman Dennis Rehberg continued his long history of excessive government spending with a vote against ending authorization of federal funding for Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” this week [H.R. 662, Vote #159, 3/02/11]. Ending funding for the bridge would have saved $183 million for education and public safety, but instead Rehbeg voted to defend the notorious pork project in Alaska.

Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party, had this to say in response to Congressman Rehberg’s defense of the Bridge to Nowhere:

“Congressman Rehberg is once again talking out of both sides of his mouth. He talks a big game about small government, but Rehberg's defense of the most outrageous earmark of all time proves he’s still a big spender.”

“Jon Tester’s approach to the budget is more than just talk – he’s looking under every stone to pay down the debt. Unlike Congressman Rehberg, Jon is taking real action to help Washington get its priorities straight.”

On Wednesday, Congressman Rehberg opposed adding to the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011 (H.R. 662) language to ensure “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to plan, design or construct the Gravina Island bridge, Alaska or the Knik Arm bridge, Alaska.” The authorizing measure would have turned back the nearly $183 million funding that still remains for the planning, design, and construction of the Gravina Island – Knik Arm bridges in Alaska.  It would also prohibit the use of any funds provided under the Surface Transportation Extension Act to finance these projects. [H.R. 662, Vote #159, 3/02/11]

In sharp contrast, Senator Jon Tester this week introduced legislation to overturn a Rehberg-era earmark for the Evergreen Water and Sewer District. In eight years, the money had never been spent and the District never even requested the earmark.

Rehberg’s vote to protect the Bridge to Nowhere comes just weeks after the Congressman took heavy criticism from Montanans for his job-killing cuts to community health and seniors services.

More background on the Bridge to Nowhere and Rehberg's recent cuts:

The Bridge to Nowhere: A National Embarrassment. Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” would connect the town of Ketchikan (population 8,900) with its airport on the Island of Gravina (population 50) at a cost to federal taxpayers of $320 million.” [Heritage, 10/20/05]
 
Rehberg: “Earmarks Are Not the Problem”. As reported by Gannett News Service, “But Rehberg also touts the federal funding, or earmarks, he obtains for pet projects in Montana. So how can he pass himself off as a fiscal conservative? ‘Earmarks are not the problem,’ said Rehberg, who said he doesn't propose funding for a project he hasn't visited. ‘They direct money that already exists within the program to a particular area, because who knows their district more than we do? That's our opportunity to make our argument to our colleagues. It doesn't add to the budget. If you've got a problem with the rain forest in Iowa or the 'bridge to nowhere' (in Alaska), then why do those kinds of projects qualify for money within the program in the first place? Fix the program. That's where the problem is.’” [Gannett News Service, 12/24/09]
 
Congressman Rehberg voted last week for the Republican Continuing Resolution.  [HR 1, Vote #147, 2/19/11]