8 sweeteners that sealed the shutdown deal

Lawmakers just can't resist tossing in scores of extra perks to help their states or allies.

By The Fiscal Times Oct 17, 2013 12:19PM

Image: Dollar bills floating over U.S. Capitol © CorbisBy Brianna EhleyThe Fiscal Times logo

Whenever Congress takes up major legislation, lawmakers just can’t resist tossing in scores of extra 'sweeteners' to help their states or allies. That was certainly the case Wednesday night, when the Senate and House finally passed a measure to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling through early next year.

Some of the amendments were run-of-the-mill spending projects. Others provided an element of surprise. Here are eight of the many provisions that gave the legislation an extra push through Congress, culled by The Fiscal Times and The Washington Post:

$2.9 billion for Kentucky dams and locks on the Lower Ohio River

Section 123 of the bill increases the amount of funding for two locks and dams on the river that flows through Illinois and Kentucky -- two states which happen to be the home to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, co-author of the deal to end the shutdown. Congress originally appropriated just $775 million for the project in 1986.

$174,000 for Frank Lautenberg's widow

Section 146 appropriates that sum -- the equivalent of a year's salary for a rank-and-file senator -- to Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, widow of the late New Jersey Democrat who passed away earlier this year.

$636 million for fire suppression

After a worse-than-expected fire season throughout the western United States, the Forest Service's wildfire-fighting budget has dwindled perilously close to zero, and the service has had to transfer money from other accounts to pay for firefighting activities.

$36 million for wildland fire management

That's for the 2014 fiscal year, and another $600 million that would go into a fire-fighting account, to be available until it's spent. The Forest Service spent more than $900 million fighting fires this year.

Back pay for federally funded state workers

Tens of thousands of state employees around the country are paid through federal grants. Any states that used their own money to keep those employees on the job after the Oct. 1 shutdown, rather than sending them home on furlough, will be paid back.

$450 million for emergency highway repairs in Colorado

Highways in the state were damaged by the floods that devastated towns in the Rocky Mountain foothills last month. The bill lifts a $100 million cap on emergency highway funds for Colorado to repair more than 200 miles of highway and about 50 bridges damaged or destroyed by the flooding.


Mine safety revenue
The bill allows the Mine Safety and Health Administration to collect $2.5 million in user fees, instead of the previous cap of $1.5 million.


Marine transportation security
The Maritime Administration Security Program gets $186 million next year, up from $174 million that it received last year.

Brianna Ehley is a reporter at The Fiscal Times. Subscribe to The Fiscal Times' FREE newsletter.

More from The Fiscal Times

Oct 17, 2013 12:39PM
At least some of it is necessary.

But mostly all they did was play kick the can.

It didn’t happen all at once, but the dream that was the United States of America, the Great Republic, has died. Other countries hostile to the idea of true freedom didn’t cause it; it wasn’t caused by a radical religious organization. The downfall of the United States was all from within its own borders, by its own people. The people, for whom others have died, have allowed the country to die a slow death. The me too, me first attitude that started many years ago, along with the idea that all are entitled to the fruits of others hard work, has allowed this country to bleed to death. When the British raised the tax on tea, our forefathers should have just shut up and paid the tax. Almost 240 years later, what has changed? Thousands have died for absolutely nothing.

Oct 17, 2013 2:02PM
Regardless of PARTY Washington is undeniably BROKEN.
Oct 17, 2013 12:44PM
It's nice to give back pay to sent home federal workers and to give back pay to federally funded state workers. But in a way it doesn't seem fair when everyone else in the country who was monetarily hurt by the shutdown receives nothing.
What about the undisclosed amount (2 billion?) for Kentucty for McConnell's pet projects.  Mitch McConnell has been brought and paid for!!
Oct 17, 2013 1:11PM
That's very interesting that in the middle of a disaster,  they manage to give widow Laughtenberg $174k.
Talk about juggling a ping pong ball and  dozens of chainsaws.

Oct 17, 2013 1:18PM
$174,000 for Frank Lautenberg's widow

Section 146 appropriates that sum -- the equivalent of a year's salary for a rank-and-file senator -- to Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, widow of the late New Jersey Democrat who passed away earlier this year.

But, a soldier gets killed fighting Bush's war, and had to fight for widows benefits.


Oct 17, 2013 2:16PM

What is a clean bill to them? Why do they perform their duties as dollar negotiations vs what is the best plan for the USA citizens and doing negotiations for specific areas (such as forestry, etc) once a year. It is all a game to them. Both sides. We all know nothing will get done again as it is the Holiday season and they need another session break because they all work so hard... GEES this is just sickening. ALL OF THEM.
Oct 17, 2013 1:26PM
well you have to spend to save? we dont have enough money, so let's spend more... WTF... 

January should be fun
Oct 17, 2013 2:41PM
In reading this post as well as numerous others, it is a proven fact that the vast percentage of you have hit the nail on the head!  Government is not only badly broken, but it is corrupt, and full of waste and fraud by those self-serving politicians we have elected. They can and HAVE been bought! This revolution has been coming for a long time and it is way past due. My suggestion is over the next couple of elections to vote OUT EVERY SINGLE INCUMBENT! I know that there will be few new ones who will fall into the "good old boy" syndrome but the major point is that by throwning all the incumbents out we would be sending a very powerful message that we have had it and are not going to take it anymore!  The big deal breaker for me is when the Republicans had the best idea ever to have the President and all administration and congressmen have to buy their health insurance in ObamaCare just like they have forced the rest of us Americans to do.  But guess what?  That deal was taken out of the final bill and instead replace with more spending and pork projects. Just a typical day in Washington!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oct 17, 2013 2:26PM
And then we wonder why we have a national debt -- a few billion for this, a few hundred million for that -- Why does Frank Lautenberg's widow need $174K? Surely the late senator had life insurance. The only ones I agree with are the increase in funding for fighting wildfires and reimbursing states that paid for employees hired with federal grants.  But everyone can see that this pork barreling comes from both sides of the aisle. We need a third political party that actually puts America first instead of their own twisted agendas. It's kind of ironic that the guy who wants less government spending gets the lion's share of it tacked on at the last minute. What a hypocrite!!!!
Oct 17, 2013 2:19PM
A poster just reminded me, isn't this about the Time when Government takes off for the Rest of the Year with Full Pay. We just got suckered folks, again. No real shock there.
Oct 17, 2013 2:41PM
I'm surprised that they didn't include a bonus and raise for themselves attached to this deal.
Oct 17, 2013 2:14PM
No wonder Senator McConnell had a smirk on his face.
Oct 17, 2013 2:47PM

All INCUMBENTS must be replaced. They have forgotten who they represent and work for !!!  Now

forward is the exact timing to show these clowns who and what is up !!

The most painful of all was the finger pointing (what) are we at the mercy) of the High School mentality.

The GOP takes a hit for it, yet who's to say the left was 100% spot on with their posture ?  It takes 2 to play catch !


Personally it is not any one party or ideology that is responsible for this embarrassing dirty laundry hung out for all the world to laugh at, it is we the people for allowing these kind of debacles to continue and the polls is where we start changing this clown crisis mode.... 


Oct 17, 2013 2:36PM
Gotta love the hypocrisy.....cry about over spending and then add in a bunch of extra spending.
Not commenting on whether a particular outlay is needed....any outlay will be deemed "needed" by the receiver.
Oct 17, 2013 2:38PM
I'm sure there will be many more sweeteners gained in the next shutdown deal coming in January,

Oct 17, 2013 3:03PM
They just can't help being crooks.  A year's pay for a dead guys wife, what a load of crap.  Do they give it to servicemembers that actually did something, hell no.  These clowns need to just die, everyone of them.
Oct 17, 2013 2:41PM

Just another glaring example of how there is no difference between Repub and Dem. Hey! Just  maxed my credit card because of spending, hmmm do I reduce my spending habits?..Nwwwww i'll just increase my card limit that will solve my debt problem. Mark my words, in all future elections the person who I vote for will NOT have a (D) or a (R) after their name.

Oct 17, 2013 1:51PM
Government Revenues peaked way back in 2007. So it has literally taken us about 6 Years to get back to Receipts we had incoming back then. Just to support our ever growing Fiat Based Money System. Even if we record a Record in Revenues this year, it's mostly due to things such as the Fed's funny money interest payments back to the Treasury along with Fannie and Freddie's repayments on it's Government Loans.

Not only has the American Populations grown since 2007, so have the Costs. So when you hear Morons say it's only a Spending and not Revenue Problem, be very skeptical. We have both a spending and an Revenue problem. Funny how Corporations don't have a problem spending a Ton on Stock Buybacks and Record CEO pay. Funny how they reduce your pay on Worries and uncertainty yet increase theirs.

And we get to play the stupid Game, all over again in a few Months. Republicans didn't lose anything and Democrats certainly didn't gain anything. Shutting down the Government was pure Stupidity. Anyone supporting it to continue are fools.

Oct 17, 2013 2:29PM
The headline reads like the scumbags rewarded themselves for finally doing a half-aSSed job of postponing the problem. However, a reading of the list shows little actual pork.. more along the lines of making some agencies and workers whole. There remains the problem of "little bits" being tacked onto every bill that finally passes but that is another discussion
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