Deal That Ended Shutdown Includes $2.8 Billion For Kentucky Dam Project

Oct 17, 2013

The Senate funding deal brokered to end the government shutdown included what some pundits are calling a “Kentucky Kickback.”

The political action committee Senate Conservatives Fund is criticizing the inclusion of $2.8B dollars for an Ohio River dam project in the bill.

Sen. Mitch McConnell helped orchestrate the funding bill that eventually passed the Senate and House, reopening the government and raising the nation’s debt ceiling. But tucked away in the deal was close to $3B in funding for the massive Olmsted River Dam, a project that was authorized in 1988 and has since gone over budget despite being considered essential.

The navigation system of the Ohio River faces a choke point near Olmsted and the project involves opening new locks and a 2,600-foot-long dam.

It’s unclear at this point just how the funding made it into the budget deal, and the role McConnell played. The project was once set for completion in 2006 but sporadic funding and the increasing complexity of the construction caused costs to balloon.