House Approves Package With $900 Million For Maryland

December 11, 2009|By Paul West | Paul West , paul.west@baltsun.com

Washington - -A huge year-end spending measure containing more than $900 million for Maryland projects won House approval Thursday on a largely party-line vote.

Included in the package is nearly $100 million in pet projects added at the request of lawmakers from Maryland, two of whom wound up voting against the legislation containing the money they asked for.

Freshman Rep. Frank Kratovil was one of 28 Democrats, mainly from conservative districts, to vote "no," as did the state's lone congressional Republican, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett. All the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against the $1.1 trillion package, designed to fund a large portion of the federal government in 2010 and finance benefit programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

If, as expected, the Senate approves the measure and President Barack Obama signs it into law, all of the earmarks contained in the legislation will be fully funded, regardless of how individual members voted.

Kratovil, in a statement, said that while the package included "many deserving programs and projects," it failed to reflect the "tough choices" needed to control federal spending. The Eastern Shore lawmaker, who faces a difficult re-election campaign next year, had more than $36 million in earmark requests, including $400,000 for a new emergency medical facility being built in his home county of Queen Anne's that would not have been included if Kratovil had not asked for it.

By opposing the measure, Kratovil also wound up voting to reject a plan that would help General Motors and Chrysler dealers appeal closure decisions, an idea he had aggressively promoted.

Bartlett had more than $16 million worth of his spending requests included in the measure he opposed. He was the lone requester for two projects, a $7.4 million auditorium expansion at Fort Detrick in Frederick, and $750,000 for an electronic records project at Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown. A Bartlett aide said the congressman has not voted in favor of an omnibus spending package since entering Congress in 1993.

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