Larry Craig

Idaho earmarks survive Senate hurdles without Craig

Idaho would get federal money for a detox center in Boise, geothermal heating at Boise State University and other projects under earmarks the U.S. Senate approved Wednesday.

The spending is part of a bill to pay for transportation, housing and urban-development programs in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The bill must go to a conference committee to resolve differences with its House equivalent, and it faces a veto threat from President Bush for costing too much.

The conference committee might have included Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who pushed for some of the Idaho earmarks and who has protected Idaho projects in past conference committees. But Craig is staying away from the Senate this month as his Sept. 30 resignation over a men's room sex scandal nears.

Craig is trying to overturn his guilty plea to disorderly conduct after an undercover police officer accused him of soliciting sex in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in June.

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, has said he will use his position to keep spending measures that Craig advocated in the 2008 appropriations bills now making their way through Congress. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, who is not on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Wednesday that he will advocate for Idaho's priorities, too.

Crapo said his priorities in the bill approved Wednesday include:

• $200,000 for a community detox center in Boise.



• $250,000 to expand renewable geothermal heating across the Boise River for use at Boise State University.



• $200,000 for Community Recreation Center renovations in Pocatello.



• $250,000 in Twin Falls for a West End branch of the Boys and Girls Club.



• $500,000 to improve U.S. Highway 30 between McCammon and Topaz.



Crapo said he and Craig also want appropriations for:

• $1.25 million for runway improvements at the Boise Airport.



• $1.5 million to improve Interstate 84 in the Boise area.



• $5 million for the City of Rocks Back Country Byway.



• $4.52 million for mass transit improvements across Idaho.



• $800,000 for the College of Southern Idaho Student Safety Initiative in Twin Falls.



• $450,000 for a preservation effort in Chesterfield, founded around the turn of the century by immigrants to Idaho.



• $400,000 for economic efforts sponsored by the Lewiston School District.



In a separate action Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved about $43 million for 18 Idaho projects, mostly related to technology, as part of a defense spending bill. The measures include research and development work at the University of Idaho, Boise State University, the Idaho National Laboratory and several Idaho companies.

"Idahoans have every reason to be proud of the research and development of cutting-edge technologies being done here," Craig said in a news release. "These efforts make our nation more secure and our armed forces the best-equipped in the world."

The bill now goes to the full Senate.

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