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Skagit River Bridge Collapse: The Blame Game

It’s interesting to me how quickly certain people were to throw blame at the GOP for the Skagit River Bridge collapse in Mount Vernon, WA, Thursday night. It didn’t take long at all for people to start saying that the Republicans fought the stimulus packages, thereby causing the bridge to collapse. Of course, nobody on the left chooses to remember the alternative stimulus measure the Republicans drafted in February of 2009. A measure “that narrows government spending to infrastructure programs and helping unemployed Americans, addresses the housing crisis and relies mostly on tax cuts”.

The spewed vitriol is especially frustrating when you read that $8.4 billion dollars in stimulus money was awarded to the state of Washington as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This money apparently created 3,723 jobs, none of which were slated to perform work on the Skagit River Bridge.

Additionally, we should not ignore the fact that the Skagit River Bridge was declared structurally sound by the Washington State Department of Transportation in 2008.

Or that, on September 11, 2007, Washington State Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) both voted ‘yes’ to tabling Amendment Number: S. Amdt. 2810 to H.R. 3074 (Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008), which would ‘prohibit funds appropriated under title I from being used for earmarks until all structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges have been repaired, with limited exceptions’.

The facts in this are plain. Not only did Washington have the money they needed to fix the bridge, Washington’s own Democratic senators voted to table an amendment that would have moved bridges in need of repairs to the top of their to-do list.

This doesn’t strike me as a finger-pointing moment. Instead, maybe people could just spare a thought or two for the people who were on or under that bridge when it collapsed, and in the future perhaps they can try to remember that other people will take them much more seriously if they can manage to keep their facts straight.

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