Critics blast Sens. Lamar Alexander, Mitch McConnell for budget vote

Critics blast Sens. Lamar Alexander, Mitch McConnell for budget vote

October 17th, 2013 by Dave Flessner in Local - Breaking News

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., speaks in Nashville.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Senate Republicans Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee are drawing fire for including money for a Ohio River lock and dam in the budget package to end the government shutdown.

The Senate Conservatives Fund today called a provision of the budget bill "the Kentucky kickback" since it would help a project along the northern border of McConnell's home state of Kentucky.

"In exchange for funding ObamaCare and raising the debt limit, Mitch McConnell has secured a $2 billion earmark," the Senate Conservatives Fund said in a statement today. "This is an insult to all the Kentucky families who don't want to pay for Obamacare and don't want to shoulder any more debt."

The budget agreement increased the authorization for the Olmsted Locks and Dam from $1.7 billion to $2.9 billion to help finish the Army Corps of Engineers' project. Alexander, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations subcommitee, said without the authorization, the project would stop next month. In a statement today, Alexander said $160 million "will be wasted because of canceled contracts if this language is not included."

State Rep. Joe Carr, R-Tenn., who is challenging Alexander next year in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, also issued a statement today blasting Alexander for voting for the compromise agreement to end the government shutdown and raise the federal debt ceiling.

"Sen. Alexander sold-out Tennesseans," Carr said. "He agreed to a deal that gave into the demands of President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid and did not even begin to tackle our spending problem or in any meaningful way rescue Americans from the harmful effects of ObamaCare. That's not conservative and that's not acceptable."

Carr said he would have joined U.S. Sens.Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, "and the rest of the real conservatives in Washington" who opposed the plan to reopen the government after a two week shutdown.