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Virginia Politics
Posted at 01:45 PM ET, 08/12/2011

Labor-backed group hits Frank Wolf on St. Elizabeths funding

A new labor-backed group has trained its sights on Rep. Frank Wolf, criticizing the Virginia Republican for backing a delay in funding construction of the new Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Southeast Washington.

Our DC was formed in April with a mission to “Bring Good Jobs to the District of Columbia.” The nonprofit got its seed money from the Service Employees International Union and shares a headquarters with the labor organization.

Our DC has criticized multiple Republicans for their support of budget cuts, but has put particular focus on Wolf because he represents a Northern Virginia district and — the group contends — has hurt the Washington region with his voting record.

On a conference call with reporters Thursday, Our DC Executive Director Kendall Fells said Wolf has supported policies that are “not only killing jobs but crushing families around the region.”

The group’s priority is the massive DHS headquarters project at the former St. Elizabeths Hospital site.

In June, the House approved a Homeland Security appropriations bill that did not include $160 million requested by DHS to continue construction. The measure passed mostly along party lines, with Wolf — a senior member of the Appropriations Committee — voting in favor.

Daniel Scandling, Wolf’s chief of staff, said that in the current budget environment, “every federal appropriations bill is being cut,” but the spending panel remains committed to seeing the DHS headquarters consolidation happen.

The bill’s accompanying report explained that lawmakers believed that the DHS project had been mismanaged and that “both costs and schedule of the current project are matters of concern” to Congress. But the White House complained that the funding cut, if enacted, would delay the project by two years and could cost thousands of construction jobs.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is likely to move its version of the Homeland Security bill in September, and it’s not clear whether that chamber — where Democrats hold the majority — will meet the DHS funding request.

Last month, Our DC dispatched people to Capitol Hill dressed in clown suits with a message to Congress to “quit clowning around” and fund the DHS project. They went to a handful of Republican offices, including those of Wolf, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and Speaker John Boehner (Ohio.).

Earlier this week, the group sent members to Wolf’s Herndon and Winchester district offices on consecutive days, purportedly looking for a meeting with the congressman. Scandling noted that the D.C. residents who went to Wolf’s offices were not actually his constituents, and suggested that Our DC was engaged in a media stunt rather than seeking a real dialogue on the DHS issue.

“What’s their purpose here other than to try to embarrass somebody?” Scandling asked. “When they came to the Washington office they didn’t ask for anybody. ... Why didn’t they ask to talk to the chief of staff if they weren’t satisfied? Why didn’t they make an appointment?”

By  |  01:45 PM ET, 08/12/2011

 
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