Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Daily Herald: Roskam Defends Federal Pork Support

Roskam defends federal pork support

By Eric Krol
Daily Herald Political Writer
Posted Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Republican congressional hopeful Peter Roskam, who’s always billed himself as a fiscal conservative, tried to walk a political tightrope Monday by embracing an oft-criticized budget tactic for securing federal funding for local projects.

The 6th Congressional District GOP nominee said he’d support continuing the so-called practice of “earmarks” if elected to Congress to make sure projects like fixing the dangerous railroad crossing at Irving Park and Wood Dale roads continue to get funded.

“I don’t think we should leave it to a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., who’s in a gray building and goes to sleep in the suburbs of Virginia every night and has never been to Wood Dale making fundamental decisions about the life and health and safety of Wood Dale,” said Roskam at Wood Dale city hall.

Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth has vowed to end earmarks, calling the practice wasteful and corrupt in an era of record budget deficits. Duckworth’s campaign, which puts out a news release every week highlighting pork projects, criticized Roskam.

“He’ll continue more of the same in Congress,” Duckworth spokeswoman Christine Glunz said. “He’s trying to defend himself on an issue he’s clearly weak on.”

When asked how Duckworth would bring home the proverbial bacon for the 6th District, Glunz said projects like the railroad crossing would get funded on merit.

Roskam said he would back a change to make earmarks more transparent, requiring the sponsoring congressman’s name to be listed.

The Wood Dale intersection has had 128 crashes in three years, making it the most accident-prone railroad crossing in Illinois. Retiring Congressman Henry Hyde has secured $11 million to create an underpass, but the project costs $65 million, officials said.

Physician Lanny Wilson, who lost his 14-year-old daughter Lauren in a 1994 accident at a Hinsdale crossing when his son tried to outrun a train by going around the crossing gates, said it’s crucial the project be completed.

In other 6th District race news, the National Republican Campaign Committee recently reserved $2.3 million worth of TV ad time for the final weeks before the Nov. 7 election. The move matches an earlier Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reservation of $2.3 million of campaign time. If history holds, both parties will spend that money to air negative attack ads about the other party’s candidate.

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