Saturday, July 16, 2011

What's the deal?

House passes bill that would divert money from electrical upgrades on N.J. Northeast Corridor Line

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed an amended energy and water bill Friday that would divert $1 billion from high-speed rail projects — including electrical upgrades on the busy Northeast Corridor Line in New Jersey — to pay for flood relief along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

The amendment to divert the rail money in New Jersey and elsewhere was proposed last month by a seemingly unlikely source — a New Jersey congressman.

"The flooding in the Midwest has been devastating," U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.) told McClatchy News Service earlier in the week. "We must be serious about controlling the deficit."
Oh please, let's not even entertain the thought that Rodney is doing this out of the goodness of his heart, or out of concern for the deficit. You don't refuse Federal money when there's no costly mandates attached. Not even to send it to stricken Republican states that already get back far more of their Federal tax dollar than Jersey does. Rodney made some kind of deal. The Repug leadership - which doesn't care about most states on the Amtrak Northeast Corridor - needed some  rep from one of those states  to say, "Hey, I have an idea how to fund your flood relief!" Otherwise it would just look like a snatch 'n'  run. We don't know what Rodney got for doing it; maybe a favor-to-be-named later. But we can look at his political situation.

Rodney's campaign chest is in debt, & although he likely won't have to fight for his job against a Democratic incumbent when Jersey redistricts minus one congressional seat, his district may be redrawn  with a narrower Repug majority, so he won't be looking at an automatic 60%+ reelection margin, another easy skate to the finish line;  he may have to put up a fight & spend some big money in a very expensive media market. For that he needs serious help from the National Republican Congressional Committee & its access to big donors.


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