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Thursday, November 18, 2010 - 5:43pm

Will Earmark Pledges Hurt Habor Deepening?

Federal funds for the state's biggest economic development project become more uncertain now that Congressional earmarks are again under political pressure.

Savannah harbor deepening will cost more than $500 million.

However, only four Georgia Republicans signed the letter formally asking the President to include harbor deepening in next year's budget.

Others considered it breaking a promise not to ask for earmarks.

Of those who would make an exception for the port, Senator Saxby Chambliss says, he believes the project will be in the budget.

"It makes it somewhat more difficult but at the end of the day, we all have the same goal in mind and I think we'll do what we have to do to achieve that goal," Chambliss says. "This is not a Republican idea, a Democratic idea. It's what's best for Georgia. And therefore, we've engaged already at this point Mayor Reid of Atlanta, who's extremely interested."

Republicans in the US House have more antipathy to earmarks and GOP leaders there say they won't pass an earmarked budget.

That means, it falls to Senators and Democrats with "ins" at the White House -- like Reid -- to lobby for the project.

Georgia officials consider harbor deepening critical to thousands of jobs.

Without a Congressional earmark, the project competes against others nationwide for funding.

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