Inouye battles McCain over relief funds

For the second straight day, U.S. Senators Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and John McCain, R-Ariz., butted heads on issues related to Hawaiian disaster relief.

A day after President Bush signed a disaster declaration for Hawai‘i, the Senate approved Inouye’s amendment to an emergency spending bill that will provide $1 million to assess the state’s water quality in the wake of the raw sewage spill in March that temporarily closed Waikiki beaches.

The two senators clashed, however, over a $900,000 provision Inouye proposed for a U.S. Geological Survey assessment of dams and reservoirs that may be in danger of failing, states a press release from Inouye’s office .

Inouye used the Ka Loko Reservoir breach as an example, telling the Senate that the floodwaters that overwhelmed the Morita Reservoir left the dam “unstable and dangerous.”

McCain insisted that the two amendments were “pork barreling,” and asked, “When is enough enough?”

Nevada Senator Harry Reid called McCain’s remarks “offensive,” and reminded the Senate that the President had declared Hawai‘i a disaster area just yesterday.

“Have you no shame?” he asked McCain.

McCain apologized to Inouye following the Democratic leader’s remarks.

The release from Inouye’s office said the provision for the dam and reservoir assessment was “rejected mainly along party lines by a vote of 53 to 43.”

The water quality amendment was approved by a vote of 51-45.

Yesterday, the Senate rejected an amendment introduced by McCain that would have removed $6 million in emergency funding that the Legislation had set aside for Hawai‘i’s two sugar plantations, Gay & Robinson Sugar Mill on Kaua‘i and Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar on Maui.

The Senate is expected to vote today on the entire emergency funding bill, now valued at $34.5 million, to help Kaua‘i and Honolulu counties, as well as other parts of the state affected by 42 days of heavy rains and flooding from February 20 to April 2.

• Ford Gunter, staff writer, may be reached at fgunter@kauaipubco.com, or 245-3681 (ext. 251).

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