The machinations of congressional apparatchiks are best left behind closed doors.
“Nobody likes to see the sausage being made,” admits U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, a Russell Township Republican.
But when the horse-trading results in the reinstatement of $150 million slashed from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, it’s worth celebrating. Particularly when the horse-trader-in-chief — Joyce — was vilified by many last week after he appeared to cave in the fight to protect the largest freshwater ecosystem on the continent.
At the time, Joyce told Plain Dealer Washington Bureau Chief Stephen Koff that he would “reluctantly” support a proposed subcommittee spending bill that gutted the initiative from $285 million this year to $60 million in 2014.
He did add, though, that he would be back before the House Appropriations Committee on July 30 with an amendment to pump that pittance into the triple digits.
And that’s exactly what Joyce did.
On Wednesday the bipartisan committee added the $150 million for the program aimed at environmental and invasive threats to the Great Lakes. Joyce says he got those dollars added back in by extending a federal program that would generate $150 million in helium sales in 2014.
The bill will now fund the initiative at $210 million — less than half the unprecedented $475 million President Barack Obama authorized in his inaugural 2010 budget.
Still, $210 million is better than $60 million. It’s a serious commitment to continue the cleanup and restoration of the Great Lakes.
It is encouraging to learn that the fate of this irreplaceable natural resource — one that Joyce estimates supports 1.5 million jobs regionally generating $62 billion in wages each year — transcends the troubled waters of congressional party politics, after all.