CATEGORY: USA Federal Government

AUTHOR: MARTY

HED: President vetoes Sardis Lake dredging project

By Marty Russell

Daily Journal

President Clinton used his line item veto power Friday to slash $1.9 million for a Sardis Lake dredging project from the Energy and Water Appropriations bill.

The project, dubbed pork by some in Congress who urged the presidential veto, was defended by 1st District U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., as a legitimate economic development project that would create almost 600 jobs.

"We're talking about 570 jobs in a county with 10 percent unemployment," Wicker said Friday afternoon.

Wicker was successful last year in getting $2.1 million approved for the project to dredge a portion of Sardis Lake to make way for development of a private marina. The development would also include a golf course, hotel, conference center, amusement park and residential area.

He said the $1.9 million vetoed by the president would have completed the federal share of the project.

But in a statement, Clinton said federal dollars should not be involved.

"Since the primary purpose of this project is to enhance local recreation navigation, it should be undertaken by local interests," Clinton said.

Opponents - notably Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. - had said the project was "wasteful and unnecessary." In an Oct. 1 letter to Clinton, McCain included the Sardis Lake project in a list of seven he said should be vetoed.

"(I) urge you to use your line item veto authority to eliminate wasteful and unnecessary spending provisions included in this bill," McCain wrote in the letter. "I am particularly concerned that the conferees on this measure added language to the bill earmarking funds for seven projects, totaling $32 million, that were not included in either the House and Senate version of the bill."

Wicker said McCain's assertion that the Sardis project had not been authorized was untrue since it had been authorized and funded last year.

He said he could not understand why Clinton would decide now not to support the appropriation when he supported it last year.

"It would be unfortunate to see otherwise worthy initiatives vetoed simply to fit some kind of political quota system," Wicker said. "That is not the way the line item veto process is supposed to work."

In a July 15 statement, McCain also called $5 million for erosion control demonstration projects in Mississippi, including work on the Yalobusha River in Calhoun County, "unrequested earmarks" but did not include that money in his veto request.

Wicker said he would continue to push for federal funding for the Sardis project.

"Too much work has gone into this effort to give up now," he said. "Sen. (Trent) Lott and Sen. (Thad) Cochran and I are already discussing other possible funding options."

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