WASHINGTON — Lawmakers plan on paying for an $8 million increase in federal spending associated with building a new bridge over the St. Croix River by cutting funding to an Interior Department administrative account.
The bulk of the funding needed to build the $690 million St. Croix bridge has already been appropriated, but an October report from the Congressional Budget Office determined that $8 million of the bridge’s cost would be direct federal spending and contribute to the deficit. That figure is what’s left over from a 2005 earmark meant to help pay for preliminary studies associated with the bridge.
Some bridge opponents, including Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison, have worked to make the earmark a hurdle to the bill’s passage, telling House leadership in an October 26 letter that it would violate House rules unless there was an offset in spending.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the Senate sponsor of the legislation, announced on Wednesday that she hopes to do just that by rescinding some funding for what’s called the Interior Franchise Fund, a large pot of money the Interior Department uses to pay for administrative costs. Sen. Al Franken, a bill co-sponsor, will offer the offset as an amendment to the legislation when a Senate committee considers it on Thursday.
Construction on a new span to replace an 80-year-old St. Croix River bridge in Stillwater needs Congressional approval before it can move forward. House committee approved the bridge in October and it’s awaiting consideration in the House. Rep. Michele Bachmann is the House author of the bill.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry