WASHINGTON - Channel 2 Action News has learned that pet projects for some members of Congress were added in the final hours to the deal that reopened the federal government.
The bill contains billions of dollars in spending tucked in at the last minute.
Among some of those projects are the Olmsted Lock and Dam. With the approval of the bill, the project got nearly $3 billion.
"Whatever it was, it was not enough to say we're not going to open up government because there's something (Mitch) McConnell put in about a road or something, I don't know what that was," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said.
It's not a road, but massive locks and a dam
that happen to be in Kentucky, the home state of Senate Minority Leader McConnell.
"Outside the beltway, the American people who are fed up with Washington's wasteful ways are going to say, 'What in the world has changed here?'" said Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union.
Taxpayer watchdogs like Sepp said it's just one example of good old fashioned pork barrel spending in the bill to reopen the government.
Another item added to the bill: A
six-figure gift to the widow of New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, one of the richest members of Congress, with a net worth of more than $50 million.
"They shouldn't have been in this bill," Sepp said.
Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Bill Shuster told Channel 2 Action News he didn't like the bill or the questionable earmarks, but the clock was ticking to avoid a debt default.
"They put things in there that are a little bizarre, but at least we have the government up and running," Shuster said.
Channel 2 Action News contacted McConnell to ask about the Kentucky project. His office said it was requested by the Army Corps of Engineers and that any senator could have asked it be taken out of the bill, but none did.
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