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Last updated 1:38AM ET
February 26, 2021
Congressional Pork in Tuscaloosa
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - The Army Corps of Engineers doesn't necessarily need a new field office in Tuscaloosa.

But with visions of restaurants and condominiums along the downtown waterfront, city leaders there decided several years ago that the Corps' existing facility was standing in the way of progress.

Republican U-S Senator Richard Shelby, a Tuscaloosa native, agreed. And he sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has big say on how much money the Corps gets and where it's spent.

Two years after Hurricane Katrina exposed glaring weaknesses in the agency's flood controls, spending bills moving through Congress are still loaded with local-interest projects the agency hasn't requested.

Congress has, of course, spent billions of dollars to protect the Gulf of Mexico. But as recent floods in Texas and Kansas proved what experts have been saying for years -- the nation's water infrastructure is vulnerable across the country.

The backroom maneuvering to get the Tuscaloosa project on track illustrates the symbiotic relationship that the Corps has with many lawmakers. The agency is often eager to play along on pet projects that please those who write its budget.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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