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Adults in Congress?

It's surprising, yes, but there might be a few adults in the Senate. There is a bit of ambiguity — they could simply be grandstanding — but I'm in a generous mood so I'll give them credit.

The $230 million Alaskan "bridge to nowhere" survived a challenge from Sen. Coburn (R-OK) who wanted to divert about half of its cost to rebuilding I-10 that spanned Lake Pontchartrain until it was destroyed by hurricane Katrina.

Almost everything surrounding this is bad. It's not good that federal dollars have been allocated for a project that benefits only Alaska. It's not good that the challenge amounted to a diversion of funds to an equally unjustified project that would benefit only Louisiana, instead of not spent. The good news is that fifteen senators voted in favor of the diversion:

The 11 Republicans who voted to shift the bridge money to Louisiana were Sens. Wayne Allard of Colorado, George Allen of Virginia, Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, Mr. Coburn, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, John E. Sununu of New Hampshire and David Vitter of Louisiana. The four Democrats were Sens. Evan Bayh of Indiana, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin and Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana.

I'm encouraged by these fifteen senators (again, assuming they weren't just grandstanding) for a larger reason than mere opposition to pork spending. It's an opportunity for senators to rediscover that they represent their State, and that it's not in the interest of their state to fund some other state's projects. I quote Sen. Stevens (R-AK) whose bridge was imperiled:

"If the Senate decides to discriminate against our state, to take money only from our state, I will resign from this body," Mr. Stevens said. "If one senator can decide he'll take all the money from one state to solve a problem of another, that is not a union. That is not equality."

Taking money from Georgia and Arizona and Nevada and Ohio in order to fund a bridge in Alaska is precisely a case of taking money from those states to solve a problem in another. Sure, Alaska wants its money. But the other 49 states should object because they'll pay the cost but get no benefit. A lot of federal pork could be cut if Senators would remember who they're working for.

The way to fix a monstrously bloated spending bill is precisely to introduce a very large number of subsequent pieces of legislation that each target a single piece of pork. When considered alone, instead of bound up with an enormous spending bill, pork can be seen for what it is and 49 of the 50 states will be incentivized to vote against it.

Tiny Island