Kansas Republicans opposed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but sought stimulus funding

Last year, U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., criticized the federal economic stimulus bill as “an old-fashioned grab-bag spending bill.” But that hasn’t stopped Brownback and his fellow Republicans who voted against the bill from working behind the scenes to secure funding under it.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity reported that scores of U.S. House and Senate members who opposed the bill, and voiced strong criticism of it, later tried to win approval of certain projects under the legislation.

Kansas’ Republican congressional delegation fits that description, lobbying for tens of millions of dollars in projects.

Brownback, who is now the Republican candidate for governor, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts and U.S. Reps. Jerry Moran, Todd Tiahrt and Lynn Jenkins all voted against the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but all wrote letters seeking government spending under the act, according to the report. The measure was essentially pushed through by President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats.

In records rounded up by the Center for Public Integrity, Brownback wrote to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood seeking approval for a road project in Olathe. He also wrote the Energy Department for a grant proposal submitted by Victory Electric for an electric grid project.

Moran, R-Kan., who is now the GOP candidate for Senate, wrote to LaHood in support of a grant for the intermodal facility near Gardner. Moran also wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu to support a proposal from Exide Technologies for a grant for manufacturing advanced batteries. Exide, based in Georgia, has 1,000 employees in Kansas, according to Moran’s letter.

Jenkins, R-Kan., wrote LaHood in favor of a project to spend money on improving freight rail lines, saying it was needed to help the Kansas economy.

Roberts wrote the Commerce Department to offer his support for a grant application by Sunflower Broadband of Lawrence to provide telecommunications service in rural northeast Kansas.

The entire Kansas delegation signed a letter for a broadband grant for the Kansas Farm Bureau. Kansas congressional officials wrote several additional letters seeking broadband funding.

Brownback, Moran and Jenkins, who are all on the ballot Nov. 2, did not respond to a request for comment on the new report.

This isn’t the first time Brownback has been noted for his opposition to the stimulus bill while also seeking funding from it.

Last year, Brownback issued a news release applauding a $1.78 million federal grant to help build a rail spur in Hutchinson. The grant was made possible by the stimulus bill.

At the time, Democrats criticized Brownback, saying that if Brownback had had his way, the federal stimulus bill would have never passed.

Here is a link to the study http://www.publicintegrity.org/articles/entry/2532/

By Scott Rothschild

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