Obama and McCain clash on flood prevention

Obama and McCain clash on flood prevention

The flood-ravaged communities of the Midwest became a new battleground in the US presidential election as Democrat Barack Obama criticised Republican John McCain for opposing federal spending on flood prevention programmes, attacks Mr McCain’s campaign called typical partisan politics.

Both candidates have visited the flood zones in the past two weeks, since heavy rains sent rivers surging over their banks, forcing thousands of people from their homes and inundating towns and cities along rivers in six US states; at least 24 people have been killed and 148 injured since June 6.

Mr Obama, an Illinois senator, cancelled a visit to eastern Iowa last week at the request of state officials and instead went to fill sandbags in Quincy, Illinois.

Mr McCain, an Arizona senator, toured flood damage in Iowa on Thursday.

During a speech yesterday at the US Conference of Mayors in Miami, Mr Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, criticised Mr McCain for opposing a measure to spend 23 billion US dollars on water projects.

It passed Congress overwhelmingly and was vetoed by President George Bush because he said it spent too much on politicians’ pet projects. Congress voted to override the veto, for the first time in Mr Bush’s presidency.

Talking about the separate trips by the candidates to flood-affected areas, Mr Obama said both he and Mr McCain felt “enormous sympathy for the victims of the recent flooding.

“I’m sure they appreciated the sentiment, but they probably would have appreciated it even more if Sen. McCain hadn’t opposed legislation to fund levees and flood control programs, which he considers pork,” Mr Obama said, a reference to Mr McCain’s condemnation of wasteful so-called “pork barrel” spending on politicians’ home districts.

The bill funded hundreds of projects – such as dams, sewage plants and beach restoration – that are important to local communities and their representatives. It also included money for the hurricane-hit Gulf Coast and for Florida Everglades restoration efforts.

Mr McCain’s campaign said Mr Obama opposed an amendment that McCain co-sponsored to prioritise flood control spending.

The bipartisan amendment, which failed overwhelmingly on a 69-22 vote, would have made sure “lifesaving levees like those that so tragically failed in Iowa and Missouri are given the highest priority and fixed first,” said Mr McCain’s spokesman Tucker Bounds.

“Barack Obama’s willingness to continue the status quo pork-barrel politics in Washington, and then engage in political attacks that entirely disregard the facts, once again fundamentally shows that he’s nothing more than a typical politician,” said Mr Bounds.

“It is beyond the pale that Barack Obama would attack John McCain for actually trying to fix the problem and change the way Washington works.”

More in this Section

UN calls for probe into alleged Saudi hacking of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’s phoneUN calls for probe into alleged Saudi hacking of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’s phone

Harvey Weinstein ‘rape’ trial to hear opening statementsHarvey Weinstein ‘rape’ trial to hear opening statements

Greece’s politicians break the mould by choosing first female presidentGreece’s politicians break the mould by choosing first female president

Scientists develop blood test that can ‘predict final menstrual period’Scientists develop blood test that can ‘predict final menstrual period’


Dr Sarah Miller is the CEO of Dublin’s Rediscovery Centre, the national centre for the Circular Economy in Ireland. She has a degree in Biotechnology and a PHD in Environmental Science in Waste Conversion Technologies.‘We have to give people positive messages’

When I was pregnant with Joan, I knew she was a girl. We didn’t find out the gender of the baby, but I just knew. Or else, I so badly wanted a girl, I convinced myself that is exactly what we were having.Mum's the Word: I have a confession: I never wanted sons. I wanted daughters

What is it about the teenage years that are so problematic for families? Why does the teenage soul rage against the machine of the adult world?Learning Points: It’s not about the phone, it’s about you and your teen

Judy Collins is 80, and still touring. As she gets ready to return to Ireland, she tells Ellie O’Byrne about the songs that have mattered most in her incredible 60-year career.The songs that matter most to Judy Collins from her 60-year career

More From The Irish Examiner