There are two key reasons why Congress should appropriate the money to complete the replacement of the crumbling lock at Chickamauga Dam.
First and foremost, it is clearly a federal responsibility. The lock is on a major interstate waterway, and its maintenance is a federal obligation under the Constitution. The funding to replace the lock is not comparable to wasteful pork-barrel spending such as peanut subsidies or music halls of fame, which have no rightful claim to federal funding.
Second, failing to rebuild the lock - which was constructed in the early 1940s - imperils thousands of jobs. A massive amount of barge traffic moves through the lock, promoting economic development for hundreds of miles upstream and downstream - and certainly not only in Tennessee.
And yet, President Barack Obama included no funding in his spending proposal for the upcoming budget year to finish the lock. (Ironically, the president's proposed budget does include enormous amounts of unconstitutional spending.)
Third District U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., commendably plans to seek federal funding changes to secure the money for the new, expanded lock at Chickamauga Dam.
"This lock is critical to our national security and to the great commerce we have moving up and down the [Tennessee] river," Fleischmann said recently in Chattanooga.
He has his work cut out for him. Unfortunately, constitutional spending in Washington seems to get no extra consideration compared with unconstitutional spending these days.
But we hope Fleischmann does get the necessary - constitutional - funding for the vital lock at Chickamauga Dam.