The state Senate this week will have to take up or let die a bill to finance the rest of planned Port of Charleston dredging.
Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman says the state should borrow $120 million through bonds because the federal government might not come through.
Congressman Jim Clyburn agrees that state leaders should be worried about that.
“I think it’s kind of short-sighted on South Carolinian’s part. To think that a finite amount of money for any kind of infrastructure development or not going to be hard to go after. You cannot believe for one moment that the federal budget will put the Charleston port in there over the Los Angeles port or the San Francisco port,” Clyburn told our affiliate WCRS in Greenwood.
Clyburn says the state’s expecting $120 million to be set aside is expecting what amounts to an earmark.
He is working on securing funds for port deepening, along with Republicans Rep. Tim Scott and Sen. Lindsey Graham. He says the federal timeline he has seen puts Charleston deepening in the year 2040.
“That is just unacceptable to me,” says Clyburn. “That’s a problem we have. You’ve got Senator Graham over the Appropriations Committee over in the Senate, and you’ve got yours truly as the major Democratic liaison with the Appropriations Committee in the House and we have been handcuffed.”
Clyburn says Congress cannot earmark, but a president can in his budget. So, it doesn’t help, says Clyburn, that Republicans in South Carolina are fighting the president on most fronts.
“If you’ve got an administration that’s free to earmark, where will it do its earmarks? Will it do the earmarks in states that are friendly to the administration or states that are competitive? Or will it do the earmarks in a state that boasts about being anti-administration? I think it’s a little bit ridiculous,” Clyburn says.
State legislators debate this week whether to fund the rest of the proposed Port of Charleston deepening by issuing bonds.
Anne Eller of WCRS in Greenwood contributed to this report.