House breaks old taboos in cutting spree; Murtha’s project taken off dole
Republicans charged that Murtha violated House rules by suggesting the quid pro quo, but Democrats, who ran the chamber at the time, defeated a resolution that would have reprimanded the longtime lawmaker.
Rep. Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican who had been gunning for the NDIC spending for years, said the end of earmarks meant power brokers lost the ability to trade support for pet spending projects among themselves. Without that sort of leverage, he said, rank-and-file lawmakers were free to vote their own way.
His amendment to cut $34 million, essentially ending the center, passed by a vote of 262-169.
Rep. Mark Critz, the Democrat who won Murtha’s seat, had sent a letter to colleagues urging them to protect the NDIC. He said there’s no other place in the federal government that provides the kind of assistance the center does.
“Without NDIC, the Department of Justice’s capability to identify strategic trafficking trends would be diminished as would its ability to recognize, trace, and break the link between trafficking and terrorism,” he wrote. “If the NDIC were to be shut down or significantly cut, we would be forced to spend more money to build the same capacity and resources somewhere else.”
The NDIC employs 237 people full time, of which 225 work in Johnstown.
Debate on the overall spending bill is scheduled to continue Thursday in the House. Its passage is expected, but the measure then would go to the Senate, where majority Democrats are likely to write their own bill.
Sen. Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Democrat, said he would try to add back the money for the NDIC when the bill reaches his chamber.
Even if the House Republicans’ bill reaches the White House, President Obama said this week, he will veto it. He said cutting government spending could cost jobs and that Republicans’ cuts also could weaken national security.
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