Robert Novak

Jefferson got a $500,000 earmark to finance bus facilities for the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority and another $500,000 earmark for speed rail corridors crossings in Louisiana and Mississippi.

A footnote: One of the largest among 12,000 new earmarks in the omnibus bill is $1,645,000 to purchase bulletproof vests for the city of Bastrop, La., though vests for the entire police department are estimated to cost only $700 to $800. The earmark was requested by Sen. Mary Landrieu and Rep. Rodney Alexander, both Louisiana Democrats.


Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, an anti-pork crusader, is expected to face opposition from the congressional establishment next year in his demand for an investigation into a notorious earmark by a reigning prince of pork, Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska.

As the 2007 session ended last week, Coburn insisted on the investigation before granting unanimous consent for a routine bill cleaning up "technical" mistakes in the massive 2005 highway bill. Young is accused of inserting a $10 million earmark by secretly changing authorization of "widening and improvements for I-75" in Florida to "Coconut Rd. interchange I-75" after the 2005 bill was passed. The interchange was desired by Florida real estate interests who then contributed $40,000 to Young.

Although the final version of the "technical corrections" bill restored the original language, Coburn on Wednesday wrote Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell that "those who perverted and distorted the explicit will of the U.S. Congress must also be held to account." Coburn did not mention Young but clearly referred to the former chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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