The wrong issue on which to make a stand re: federal funding
The Washington Post reports on a stand that Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-N.C.) is making over federal funding for land that would be used for the permanent memorial to the heroes of United Flight 93:
For emotional wallop, there are few rivals to the windswept, grassy field outside of Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001.
But for three years, that field has made do with a makeshift monument while one member of Congress, Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-N.C.), has blocked a $10 million request to buy the land for a permanent memorial to the 40 passengers and crew members who overpowered hijackers bent on crashing their jet into the Capitol or the White House.
The families of the Flight 93 passengers and crew will be in Washington tomorrow, this time intent on challenging the chairman of the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee, who oversees funding for federal acquisition of property. With a major motion picture on the doomed flight premiering tonight, a showdown on the issue is the last clash that embattled Republicans want.
“We need to build a memorial for these people,” said Rep. William Shuster (R-Pa.), whose district includes Shanksville. “These 40 people were the first counterattack of the war on terror, and they were victorious. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.”
For Taylor, a large landowner in the mountains of western Carolina, the issue comes down to principle: The federal government is already the largest landowner in the country, and he believes that no additional tax dollars should go to more land buying for this or any other memorial. Beyond that, the families have committed to raising half the $60 million needed to build the memorial but so far have raised $7.5 million. Taylor is concerned that the federal government will be left holding the bag.
Neither Taylor nor his press secretary returned phone calls and e-mails yesterday. His chief of staff, Sean Dalton, would not comment.
GOP aides familiar with the issue said Taylor’s resolute stance made sense shortly after passage in 2002 of an act authorizing the memorial. The original designs were expansive, the acreage perhaps excessive, and there were real questions about how many tourists would visit the remote site in Somerset County. Taylor infuriated some Flight 93 family members by suggesting a more fitting tribute would be a scholarship fund.
I can understand a Congressperson having spending priorities – heck, we need more in Congress to pay closer attention to the budget and cut massive amounts of wasteful spending accordingly. But this isn’t wasteful spending, nor is it the type of spending issue on which to take a stand. This reminds me of, back in 2004, when Sens. Kerry and Edwards voted against the $87B supplemental appropriation for the troops. They were taking a stand on where the money was coming from. Right stand, but wrong budget issue.
This is just dumb, dumb, dumb.
Jack Fowler at NRO’s “The Corner” blog has more.
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