Reporting Esme Murphy
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — This week Governor Mark Dayton set a new March 15 deadline for Congress to approve the Stillwater bridge replacement.
The Governor and MnDOT said if the bridge is not approved by the U.S. House of Representatives by then, the state of Minnesota will start allocating $163 million in federal transportation funds to other projects. That leaves Rep. Michele Bachmann only eight days when Congress is in session to shove the bill through.
Rep. Bachmann this week called the deadline “artificial” and “crazy.” Sources tell me that the actual deadline may eventually slide to April 1. But the concerns of Rep. Betty McCollum that $700 million for this one project will drain money from other needed projects may stall the bill further. With redistricting the bridge site is now in Rep. McCollum’s not Bachmann’s district.
Does Bachmann have enough clout with colleagues to get the massive project through so quickly? That remains to be seen. If she does get it though it will certainly dampen the criticism that she has not been able to get bills passed.
In the end, Bachmann may get a break with some unlikely help. Senator Amy Klobuchar has been pushing House members for their support, and key Wisconsin representatives have been pushing for it too. Bachmann is back in Minnesota running for reelection. She is now a national figure who hopes to ride a bridge over the St. Croix River to another term in Congress.