Friday, November 19, 2010

Meet Jerry Lewis: The CA Republican Lawmaker Who Could Cost His State $2 Billion

On Monday, Republican Lawmaker Jerry Lewis (CA-41) introduced H.R.6304, the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Rescissions Act" to "immediately rescind all unobligated discretionary stimulus funds."

Within 2 days, the White House responded with a point-by-point rebuttal, warning Lewis that his proposal to cut $12 billion from unspent stimulus funds will be felt most by his own constituents.

An estimated $2 billion for high speed rail— a priority for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger— could be lost to California as well as energy and transportation projects in or near the home district of Rep. Jerry Lewis, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.

For example, the administration cites an Energy Department investment in a $1.4 billion solar power complex in the Mojave Desert, portions of which are in Lewis’ district. And the city of Colton, on the edge of his district, has a stake in $33 million for a rail grade project intended to make it easier to move freight traffic through the area.

Lewis set off the fracas Monday with a letter to President Barack Obama outlining legislation to rescind the last $12 billion in unobligated appropriations from the giant economic recovery bill approved in 2009. Two days later—a fast turnaround—the White House responded with a three page, pointed rebuttal signed by Jeffrey Zients, a top official at of the Office of Management and Budget.

High speed rail represents the biggest chunk of the $12 billion cut—about half or $6 billion. Other big ticket items listed by Zients include over $1 billion for transportation related projects like the Colton crossing plan and more than $500 million in energy loan guarantees.

“American across the country, including in California, would bear the brunt of your bill,” Zients writes in his letter, a copy of which was shown to POLITICO.

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