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Clyburn says DeMint blocking Charleston study

Apr 14, 2011 1:12:00 PM - thestate.com
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.