U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, said Thursday he has given up on
trying to secure $400,000 legislatively to study the deepening of the
Charleston port and instead will seek the money administratively.
In a call with S.C. media, Clyburn said U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint,
R-Greenville, repeatedly has blocked his efforts to get the study money
included in the federal budget. The money is to explore deepening the
Port of Charleston to accommodate mega-cargo ships expected to dominate
sea traffic in the future.
Prodded by DeMint and others, President Barack Obama has vowed to veto
any earmarks. As a result, Clyburn said he will take a different tactic to
try to get the money for the project, which advocates say is vital to
South Carolina's heavy exporting manufacturers.
"Rather than pursue any kind of earmarking, I have decided that I will
deal with it administratively ... because there's no way to deal with it
legislatively without doing an earmark," Clyburn said. "So I'm not going
to fly in the face of the president's vow to veto anything with an
earmark ... but I'm doing everything I possibly can do to get this done.
I feel optimistic that we can get this done."
Clyburn said he hopes to find the money by Sept. 30 when the federal
fiscal year ends. He said he has spoken with Obama and Vice President
Joe Biden, both fellow Democrats, on the issue, seeking guidance. He
also has spoken with and planned to speak later today again with the
secretary of U.S. Transportation department, seeking a solution.