Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

August 27, 2009

<img src="http://www.sgaonline.com/headlines/update.gif" /> GOP opposes plan then seeks money

WASHINGTON (AP) — Georgia’s Republican senators, Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, voted against the $787 billion economic stimulus package, blasting the bill as a bloated government giveaway.

But their disdain didn’t stop them from later asking Defense Secretary Robert Gates to steer $50 million in stimulus money to a constituent’s bio-energy project.

Gates didn’t do it, but Chambliss, Isakson and other Republican opponents of the stimulus aren’t going empty-handed.

Billions of dollars worth of Defense Department stimulus money is paying for repairs and construction at military installations in areas represented by lawmakers who said “no” to the legislation, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

The request from Chambliss and Isakson isn’t the only one Gates and other top defense officials received before and after President Barack Obama signed the stimulus law in February. Their pitch stands out, though, because of the GOP’s staunch opposition.

As Congress considered the legislation earlier this year, Republicans called it a partisan bill bound to make the size of government grow, not the economy. Not a single House Republican voted in favor of the bill; only three Senate Republicans did so.

Trashing the stimulus and also welcoming the money is a sore point for Democrats who say the GOP can’t have it both ways. But Republicans say there’s no inconsistency in opposing wasteful spending while also backing worthwhile projects.

The Pentagon is staying out of the fight. Navy Cmdr. Darryn James, a Pentagon spokesman, said political considerations were not a factor as defense officials put together the department’s stimulus spending plan. The two main criteria were that projects could be started quickly to boost the economy and would also improve the quality of life for military personnel.

In statements, Chambliss and Isakson said helping their constituents is an important part of their jobs. In this case, it was Bell BioEnergy of Tifton, Ga., which is developing a process to convert waste into fuel.

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