Remember the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’? Dems do

REMEMBER THE ‘BRIDGE TO NOWHERE’? DEMS DO…. House Democrats saw their Republican counterparts use motions to recommit very effectively during the last two congresses, when the GOP was in the minority. Dems seemed to learn a few things in the process.

Democrats have used the tactic quite effectively during the debate over the Patriot Act extension, and then again this week forcing Republicans to stand united in support of massive subsidies to the oil industry. Last night, Dems had another gem.

House Democrats used a creative floor maneuver Wednesday to force Republicans into blocking the elimination of more than $180 million in funds left over from the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” earmark.

During consideration of a bill that would extend the authorization for surface transportation programs through Sept. 30, Democrats offered a motion to recommit that would have eliminated $183 million in funding to Alaska.

Originally earmarked in the 2005 surface transportation reauthorization for two bridges in rural Alaska, the funds were ultimately directed to the state’s transportation department after the earmark became a symbol of Congress’ abuse of the system. One of the bridges, to a tiny community on Gravina Island, became famous as the Bridge to Nowhere.

Dems offered Republicans a chance to reject funding for this notorious project, but the GOP was unanimous voting the other way. The final roll call: 181 to 246.

As a literal matter, if/when Dems run an ad next year, blasting a Republican incumbent for voting to protect the “Bridge to Nowhere” earmark, it’ll be true. Indeed, that’s exactly the line the party has begun pushing.

“What’s worse than one Republican Bridge to Nowhere? Two Republican Bridges to Nowhere. If Republicans believe their own hype about fiscal discipline then they should vote to cut the deficit by eliminating these Bridges to Nowhere,” Nadeam Elshami, spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), told Roll Call.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee denounced Republicans for opposing the motion.

For example, DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson dinged Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.) in a statement for his vote against the motion: “It’s unbelievable that Representative Jon Runyan would vote to keep the poster child for Republican out-of-control government spending alive and kicking. … Runyan’s GOP really does stand for ‘Get Our Pork.'”

It’s only early March. The motion to recommit game is just getting started.