Passage of the Defense Spending Bill and a lot of earmarks for Missouri reopens the argument over earmarks – with Senators Christopher “Kit” Bond and Claire McCaskill on opposite sides.

Bond’s office sent out a press release announcing the Senator had secured $214 million for Missouri defense projects throughout the state. He says earmarks are a fact of life and that what matters is who is going to decide where the money goes – Missourians or Washington bureaucrats.

“All of these dollars are earmarked,” said Bond in his weekly radio conference call. “It’s a question who earmarks them. Whether it’s the Bush Administration or the Obama Administration – they have bureaucrats, many of whom may never have been in Missouri or west of the Potomac, deciding where the money goes.”

McCaskill, in her weekly radio conference call, said she is pleased to see Missouri companies receiving federal dollars, but she is concerned with the no-compete process.

“Any time we’re giving public money to private, for-profit companies, I think it’s very important that every private, for-profit company be allowed to participate and compete.”

Bond makes it clear he believes the decision-making process is what matters here.

“The process is open, transparent, and readily identifiable,” said Bond. “Those of us who listen to our constituents back home can do a better job, I believe, in determining where money coming back to the states is spent.”

McCaskill says it’s the principle of the idea that public dollars are being handed out for projects with non-competitive bids.

“It is just interesting to me that some of the people that are pounding the table about government getting out of private business and how government should quit their takeover and government should quit its Big Brother – why they then would turn around and give public moneys to private companies without competition.”

Among the $214 million for Missouri in the Senate bill is $5 million to support the Nanotechnology Enterprise Consortium in Columbia, $4.2 million to DefBar Systems in Lebanon, and $2 million to Mid-America Precision Products in Joplin.

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