Alaska U.S. Rep. Don Young has never made any secret about his fondness for earmarks and vowed to continue pushing for them when the GOP talked of banning them. His persistence paid off for the Alaska Railroad, which was saved from large-scale layoffs and less passenger service last month when an expected $30 million federal funding cut was reduced to a $4 million cut. Politico reports today on how Young pulled off a coup for the "Railroad to Nowhere," grabbing funds that were supposed to be set aside for mass-transit systems carrying urban commuters.
Young's victory reveals how easily a savvy legislator can slip around the earmark ban - his fingerprints were so light that the words Alaska Railroad don't even appear in the bill. ...
In the final round of talks, Young won a concession from the Senate. They drew up a plan that would give Alaska money for its rail system within the city of Anchorage and for a portion of its tracks across the state.
Sources close to the talks said that the earmark ban gave Young an ironic advantage in the endgame. Because other House members weren't asking for special carve-outs, his proved an easy win.