Though McConnell now says he is dead set against any more government shutdowns, Kentucky voters have every reason to be a little dubious.
After all, in the last shutdown, Senator McConnell was able to parlay the last one into what one conservative group called a "boondoggle" sticking with an eye-watering $3 billion bill for taxpayers.
Back in October 2013 U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were pitted against each other at the negotiation table, in an attempt to work out some kind of compromise to end the 16-day-long government shutdown. The Republicans had refused to increase the debt ceiling in an attempt to roll back Obamacare- or Affordable Care.
Despite the usual talk about limiting Big Government spending, McConnell managed to slip a provision into the debt ceiling bill on the sly that included nearly $3 billion for a dam project.
A provision in the funding bill includes $2.918 billion in funding to the Army Corps of Engineers to install locks as part of the Olmsted Dam and Lock Authority Project on the Ohio River.
That was in fact an increase in the $1.5 billion funding that Congress had authorized several years earlier.
According to an investigation by the St. Louis Post Dospatch, the Olmsted dam project has run way over budget since it was first proposed back in 1988.
A Post-Dispatch review of thousands of pages of documents and more than two dozen interviews reveal a project plagued by cost overruns, delays and engineering challenges stemming largely from the corps’ stubborn insistence on an innovative construction method that met its match in the unruly Ohio River.
It was originally given a budget of $775 million (that's not accounting for inflation). According to the builders, the price tag has soared to an estimated $ 3.1 billion dollars. (So the McConnell deal in effect doubled the funding.)
This project- if it is ever finished- will be the largest and most expensive inland water navigation installation ever built in the United States. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has called the whole project a "boondoggle’ and in an unusually clever turn of phrase said that it was a case of "one of these things where we're damned if we do, damned if we don't." According to Paul, as expensive as it has become, we have no choice but to plow ahead.
With cost soaring for Olmsted project, Rep. Ed Whitfeld, a Republican from Kentucky, who had ushered through the House of Representatives critical funding for project in 2009, was even more blunt back. By 2011, he was calling the project "a complete failure."