Friday, March 17, 2006
By GERARD SHIELDS
Advocate Washington bureau
WASHINGTON — The Senate narrowly approved President Bush’s $2.8 trillion budget on Thursday, including an amendment that could bring up to $10 billion over five years to Louisiana and other coastal states.
The coastal money, crafted in a measure by U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., would be dedicated to restoration and hurricane protection, including levee armoring.
But the approval did not come without some high-wire political acrobatics by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. Landrieu was the lone Democrat to support the budget, trading her vote for the coastal funding. The measure passed 51-49.At one point, it looked like Landrieu would be the swing vote, and Vice President Dick Cheney was summoned to the Senate chamber to break the tie.
“These kinds of votes are never easy,” Landrieu said before the vote. “But sometimes they’re necessary.”
Disappointed Democrats criticized Landrieu’s vote. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called the political trade worthless — funding that will never materialize.
“She got nothing for her vote,” Reid said after the vote. “It’s funny money. Monopoly money.”