In Search of the U.S. House’s Salmon Swain

Fresh salmon at Pike Place Farmers Market in Seattle. Two senators this week tried to put a House-crafted salmon restoration funding provision on ice. (George Rose/Getty Images)

Salmon isn’t pork. It’s salmon. Until two high-profile senators decide the tasty pink fish is indeed pork, that is — and try to put said salmon on ice.

The Senate “salmon spectacle” was detailed by Intercepts on Wednesday. After Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma lifted a joint hold of a continuing resolution to keep the government running through Sept. 31, the Senate is moving — plodding might be a more accurate word — toward passage of its CR that includes a full 2013 Pentagon spending bill.

Since the “spectacle,” tempers have cooled and senators have mended fences. The Senate’s self-described maverick took a few jabs Thursday at House Appropriations Committee leaders, who crafted the bill in which the salmon provision — and others for billions McCain and other Senate Republicans dubbed “stupid” and “pork” originated. Here’s what I reported yesterday after a brief pork-flavored conversation with McCain:

McCain said the House’s inclusion of the Guam funding, as well as other items totaling $6.4 billion such as preventing the Army from retiring cargo planes it no longer wants to Pacific Coast salmon restoration, showed “we haven’t really changed around here. … the old bulls who run the Appropriations committees still run things.”

Trading barbs, for better or worse, is what lawmakers do. Beyond the barbs, a question remains unanswered: Which House member’s taste for Pacific Salmon transformed the tasty fish into Washington pork?

Sadly, we may never know.

McCain told me “it’s always really hard to find those kinds of things out.”

That didn’t stop your correspondent from asking the House Appropriations Committee which one of its members requested the salmon restoration funding — and the entire list of items to which McCain and Coburn objected.

“The legislation is a committee product,” HAC spokeswoman Jennifer Hing wrote in an email. “We do not attribute specific provisions to specific members.”

The search for the salmon swain continues…

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett