Bill that reopened government full of pet projects

Pet projects for some members of Congress were added in the final hours to the deal that reopened the federal government, Cox Media Group's Washington D.C. Bureau reported Thursday.

The bill contains billions of dollars in spending tucked in at the last minute.

One  of those projects is the Olmsted Lock and Dam on the Ohio River between Kentucky and Illinois. With the approval of the bill, the project got nearly $3 billion.

"Whatever it was, it was not enough to say, we're not going to open up government because there's something (Mitch) McConnell put in about a road or something. I don't know what that was," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said.

It's not a road, but massive locks and a dam that happen to be in Kentucky, the home state of Senate Minority Leader McConnell.

"Outside the beltway, the American people who are fed up with Washington's wasteful ways are going to say, 'What in the world has changed here?'" said Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union.

Taxpayer watchdogs like Sepp said it's just one example of good old-fashioned pork barrel spending in the bill to reopen the government.

Another item added to the bill: A six-figure gift to the widow of New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, one of the richest members of Congress, with a net worth of more than $50 million.

"They shouldn't have been in this bill," Sepp said.

Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Bill Shuster said he didn't like the bill or the questionable earmarks, but the clock was ticking to avoid a debt default.

"They put things in there that are a little bizarre, but at least we have the government up and running," Shuster said.

Contacted about the Kentucky project, McConnell's office said it was requested by the Army Corps of Engineers and that any senator could have asked it be taken out of the bill, but none did.