first_imgSouthern California would get millions of dollars for local projects under a sweeping $516 billion budget bill being finalized Tuesday. In addition to $70 billion for the Iraq war, the plan gives California and other border states money for incarcerating illegal immigrants and clears away the final federal obstacles to tunneling under West Los Angeles for a “subway to the sea.” Yet not all Southland priorities found funding in the 3,565-page measure. Jo Maney, spokeswoman for Rep. David Dreier, R-Glendora, noted that Democrats put no money toward either the Alameda Corridor East or the Gold Line. The bill crams together 11 of the year’s 12 appropriations measures into a single package. And while local Democrats allowed that they were disappointed their party yielded to President Bush on Iraq, they said the concession was necessary to end the stalemate between the White House and Congress. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champ“We are where we are. No one wants to have the government shut down,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, the only Southern California Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. “It’s not ideal, but there’s a lot of good investment in the omnibus bill.” Republicans, meanwhile, accused Democrats of dropping pet projects known as earmarks into the bill while cutting off support for U.S. troops and slashing funds for the border fence and other GOP priorities. “There was no focus on the budget this entire year. We had 41 votes on cutting off funding for our troops, and they let everything else just drop by the wayside,” said Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Thousand Oaks. “Ultimately, the Democrats had all year to get this work done and the omnibus in its current form demonstrates their failure to govern effectively,” said Maney. The spending bill passed by the House late Monday included only $30 billion for Afghanistan and nothing for Iraq. On Tuesday, however, the Senate moved to insert as much as $70 billion for Iraq. The bill is expected to return to the House today for a final vote, and some Southland Democrats who oppose the war say they won’t sign off on it. “At this moment I can’t tell you, but I’m leaning against that funding,” said Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte. Still, noted Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, the bill will pass regardless. “It may pass with more Republican votes than Democratic votes, but it will pass,” he said. Sherman said he also is reluctant to vote for legislation that continues to fund the war without imposing any restrictions on the administration. He and other Southland Democrats insisted the bill still makes important changes, spending more on rural health care, AIDS programs and veterans than Bush wanted. “It’s a far better budget than what the president proposed. We have to feel good about that, knowing this is a down payment on changes to this country,” said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles. They also hailed the slew of local projects tucked into the bill. Those ranged from $262.4 million for the Mars Exploration Program managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to smaller investments like $1 million to improve Metrolink grade crossings and $392,000 for a transit center at Cal State Northridge. It also includes $13 million for cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Chatsworth and also demands that the Environmental Protection Agency team up with the Energy Department to conduct another survey for chemical and nuclear contamination. The measure also clears the way for a $4.8 billion subway line from the Los Angeles’ Westside to the Pacific Ocean by lifting a 20-year-old federal prohibition on tunneling. “Los Angeles has the worst traffic in the nation, and commuters find themselves in gridlock every day. This action by Congress moves Los Angeles a step closer to seeing the long-anticipated expansion of the Metro Red Line become a reality,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who worked to lift the ban with Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles. Also tucked into the bill is a measure preventing commercial development at the West Los Angeles Veterans Center and $410 million for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, which reimburses states for the money they spend incarcerating illegal immigrants. That’s just $5 million more than Congress gave last year, and just a fraction of what the state spends. [email protected] (202) 662-8731160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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