The state’s congressional delegation told top business leaders that they are optimistic about the Port of Charleston’s future.
All eight members of Congress answered questions from the state Chamber of Commerce, with much time spent on the deepening the port for the next wave of shipping through the expanded Panama Canal.
Senator Jim DeMint was asked about his unwillingness to support the deepening project –through earmarks. He says there are other ways to get it done:
We will get it done, but it will not be done with parochial earmarks. That is a broken system, and we’ve got to change it, and there are a number of reform proposals that we should have cleared by the end of the year. And we’re going to have to do the same thing with transportation dollars. A lot of that’s been thrown around with earmarks for years. And frankly, if you look at our constitutional oath of office, it’s not our job to go to Washington to bring home bacon. It’s our job to protect and defend the Constitution with a very limited government.
Congressman Jim Clyburn disagrees with DeMint’s approach, likening his approach to religious beliefs:
I don’t think I should ever allow my religion to define how you conduct yourself with yours. And that’s what we’re doing so much with this. What is an earmark? An earmark doesn’t add one dime to the deficit. I defy anybody to show me how appropriating–and I’m going to use an example here–$100 million to do something and reserve 2 percent of that $100 million for congressional priorities–how does that add to the deficit?
Senator Lindsey Graham says DeMint is taking on an important stance. But Graham says the port is his own number one priority, no matter how it gets done:
Here’s the dilemma for us: If any administration leaves out vital infrastructure, what the hell am I supposed to do? I’d rather lose my job than lose the port. I’d rather have a merit-based system to replace the broken solution of today than any other solution I know of. But if push comes to shove, and we can’t get reason to prevail, I am not going to let this port die–because no system of government that would have that as a result could be said to be good government.
Graham says he is intent on solving this–and is working on a series of solutions with the help of the 1st District’s Tim Scott.
Business leaders at the state Chamber event wanted to hear about the port’s progress on Capitol Hill:
Relative to the port, which is the most important economic development issue we have, I was very pleased to hear the level of confidence and the planning and the cohesion of our legislative delegation–and particularly from Sen. Graham and Rep. Clyburn, who have been working it the longest, that they feel like they’ve got a plan that could work. We just need to get it done.
The delegation addressed statewide business leaders’ questions on the topics of health care, federal unemployment insurance, free trade and nuclear power policy.