A senior Democratic senator on Wednesday urged the Obama administration to suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in economic stimulus projects, saying Homeland Security officials were treating the recovery plan like a “bottomless pit” of taxpayer money.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said he was not persuaded by assurances from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that stimulus money was handed out appropriately for renovations at border checkpoints.
The Associated Press reported last month that Homeland Security officials did not follow their internal priority lists when choosing which border checkpoints would get money. The result is that tiny crossings in Montana and Dorgan’s home state are set to get money ahead of busier, higher-priority border stations.
Homeland Security officials say they acted appropriately. Dorgan was unconvinced, even though his state stands to receive more than $128 million for checkpoint improvements.
“There’s no common sense at all to a requirement that says you’ve got to put up a $15 million facility for a small port of entry that’s host to about five vehicles an hour,” Dorgan said in a telephone interview. “That seems to suggest that there’s a bottomless pit of taxpayers’ money out there to be spent.”