South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn blamed his Republican peers for the failure to get funding for Charleston’s port dredging project, while Republicans blamed President Obama for not including it in his 2012 executive budget released Monday.
In a conference call Tuesday, Clyburn said he and other members of the state’s congressional delegation sent a letter asking President Obama to include the dredging project, but two Republicans did not sign.
It was always made very clear to me that the delegation needed to be unified on this. I signed the letter and thought everybody in the delegation signed the letter. One senator didn’t sign it and one House member didn’t sign it, and so the (Office of Management and Budget) didn’t feel obliged to accommodate.
Clyburn said Sen. Jim DeMint and Rep. Joe Wilson were the two who did not sign the letter.
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham criticized the absence of port funding in his own call, hinting South Carolina did not get the money because it leans Republican.
Normally, the lack of any funding in an executive budget means senators would likely add it as an earmark. However, Congress has enacted a temporary earmark ban this year, and Obama has said he would veto any legislation that contained earmarks.
Clyburn said he will not try to earmark the funding, claiming his record proves his support for the port.
I’m not going to fly in the face of the president on this issue… I have earmarked the money three different times and it passed the House three different times. I don’t know that I have to dance by anybody else’s music.
Charleston’s port needs to be dredged so it can handle new, larger ships that will begin supplying the East Coast in 2014. However, any dredging requires a study from the Army Corps of Engineers. Historically, those studies have been funded solely by congressional earmarks.
Graham said he would use his seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to find other ways to fund the study.