Nov 16 2010
Meghan Hughes (202) 224-5972 / Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on his support of the DeMint earmark moratorium.
"As a long-time supporter of earmark reform, I will vote in support of the moratorium. Some earmarks, like the Bridge to Nowhere, have rightfully left Americans angry about how Washington spends their hard-earned tax dollars on projects which serve little, if any, purpose. The earmark moratorium will help ensure projects like these are not allowed to slip through the Congress again.
"I know that while some earmarks have been employed for important purposes, like my funding request for the production of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicles to protect our troops in battle, there have been abuses. These abuses have led many to question our willingness to get our nation's fiscal house in order.
"The South Carolina delegation now has two options at our disposal to ensure the infrastructure needs at the Port of Charleston are addressed
1. Pass Senator DeMint's proposed legislation reforming the way port studies and harbor deepening are funded, or
2. Press the Obama Administration to include the necessary funding for the port study in their budget submission to Congress.
"The next five months should give us ample opportunity to achieve one of these objectives. If neither event comes to fruition by early April, I will use every option at my disposal to ensure funding is made available.
"I respect the spirit in which this moratorium has been agreed to and hope it will lead to a better use of taxpayer dollars. However, I maintain the right to seek funding to protect our national security or where the jobs and economy of South Carolina are at risk. If the Obama Administration and their bureaucrats in the federal agencies take action against the best interests of South Carolina, I will take swift action to correct their wrongs."
• When it comes to the Port of Charleston, time is of the essence. The Charleston Port and its customers need the harbor deeper to meet the demands of new, larger cargo ships that are due to come through the Panama Canal in 2014.
• According to port officials, contracts are being negotiated now and if a plan is not in place soon, businesses will not sign with our port. If that happens, South Carolina will lose market share and jobs will be destroyed.
• While Senator Graham has worked hard to get funding for the Charleston port study included in this years budget, it appears Congress will pass a continuing resolution. This means funding for the Charleston port study is unlikely at this time.
• South Carolina is plagued by one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at nearly 11 percent. The Port of Charleston is both directly and indirectly responsible for every 1 in 5 jobs in the state.
• The feasibility study is only the first step in what will be a multi-year process to ensure we have the estimated $300 million in funding needed for this project.