In a Wednesday news conference, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., doubled down on his threat to block all executive nominations if the administration does not agree to fork over $50,000 for an Army Corps of Engineers study on deepening the Port of Charleston in his home state.
With dozens of executive nominations pending on the Senate calendar, Graham stood by his ultimatum -- originally made on Twitter and in a news conference on Tuesday -- to place a hold on all executive nominations until federal funding for the study is provided.
“No nominations go forward in Senate until we address the port,” he wrote.
The $50,000 at issue would pay for a study on the feasiblity of deepening several ports; the funding was left out of the compromise on the fiscal 2011 continuing resolution congressional leaders and the White House agreed on last week.
Charleston is competing with other port cities, including Savannah, Ga., for federal funding to deepen their harbors to service “supercargo” ships that will be looking to call on East Coast harbors after the scheduled widening of the Panama Canal, expected to be completed in 2014.
“Supercargo ships are [going to be] dominating the shipping and ports on the East Coast need to get ready, Graham said on Wednesday. “In my state, the Port of Charleston accounts for one in five jobs.”
Graham said the Army Corps of Engineers study is needed before South Carolina can move ahead on deepening its port and that hundreds of thousands of jobs depend on its findings.
“I am gonna make sure we can deepen the port,” Graham said Wednesday, adding he would use procedural steps to ensure that federal money for is made available for the study.
The Republican also faulted the Obama administration for failing to follow through on pledges to expand U.S. exports. Deepening the Charleston port would be a step toward doing so, he said.
This article appears in the April 13, 2011 edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.