The following exchange between Sens. Warren G. Magnuson (D-Wash.) and J. Bennett Johnston Jr. (D-La.) is excerpted from the Congressional Record. It concerns funds appropriated by Congress for federal water projects, which are under administration attack:
MR. MAGNUSON: I could go on for quite a while about this so-called move that is going on downtown on the water projects. But I wanted to bolster up the senator's amendment by showing just how flimsy, as the senator from Maine (Sen. Edmund S. Muskie) pointed out, was the sheet of paper we received on environmental and benefit-to-cost impect . . .
I say to the senator from Louisiana one of the projects on the so-called "second list" that leaked out is a well-known project to everybody in Senate for many years, namely, Grand Coulee Dam.
It is a project in which we are building a third powerhouse to create thousands of new kilowatts of cheap hydroelectric power, which is in short supply.
The third powerhouse is, I think, 78 to 80 pe cent completed and it has a benefit-to-cost ratio - how much does the senator think? Approximately 40-to-one!
For every dollar there is, it is the highest benefit-to-cost ratio I think ever given to any public works project.
I just cannot believe that it could be on the list! . . .
That is one of the reasons why we had to pass the impoundment bill. Whether you come from the West or the Middle West or even the East or the Northeast, public works create jobs, help unemployment, and you have something to show for it that is worth-while.
It is rare to have a public works project built and then to have somebody say that it was not worth the cost of building. I do not know of any.
MR. (Jennings) RANDOLPH: We do not receive back dollar-for-dollar. It is not an expenditure. It is an investment in the area and in the country. I agree with the senator.
MR. MAGNUSON: Forty-to-one is the benefit-cost ratio. I would like to get in on that investment myself. We put in a dollar and get back $40, and we create jobs and low-cost electric power, which is now being transferred all over the Pacific Northwest. So I join the senator from Louisiana.
All of us out West are just flabbergasted that this would happen. I cannot find out yet how it happened. The senator was at the White house today. I was not invited because I think we are on the second list.
MR. JOHNSTON: I think the senator is correct. The fellows on the first list were invited down there today.
MR. MAGNUSON: Did the person who made up this list show up?
MR. JOANSTON: We could not find out precisely how these lists are put together. The first list has 19 projects. The second list, for Corps of Engineers projects, has 38 projects. We do not know how many Bureau of Reclamation projects there will be. We think there are 27 projects on that list.
Those lists will hit like a bombshell around here. If we do not do something, in my judgment, in terms of this amendment, we are going to spend an enormous amount of time and effort and energy of the Senate in trying to undo it. All of us will go back to our states and have hearings and have a meeting with the President and with Bert Lance, with the Secretary of the Army, with the Director of the Bureau of Reclamation and with the Secretary of the Interior.
Nobody is going to be doing anything but trying to restore their water projects. I can tell the senate that I am not. We can let the rest of this jobs bill go. We are going to drop everything to try to get these water projects on stream again. I do not doubt that we are going to win the fight.
MR. MAGNUSON: In the long run, we will win it. We can override the President's veto in the long run.
MR. JOHNSTON: That is right.
MR. MAGNUSON: But it stops everything.
MR. JOHNSTON: Let us do it now.
MR. MAGNUSON: Can the senator from Louisiana imagine a senator from Washington going to his state and holding a hearing on the benefits or demerits of Grand Coulee Dam?
They would hang me from a tree if I were to hold a hearing on it, after this has been established for years.
And the Second Bacon Siphon. I do not know whether I would even want to show up for a hearing like that. I do not know where you would get anybody to say anything against it. But maybe there are some people downtown who might come out. Maybe they will surface, and we can find out who they are.
This is absolutely incredible. I know about the projects that the senator from Louisiana has there. This is the lifeblood of the economy in some of those areas.
It is the best thing we can do. There are other things we can do, but it is the best single thing we can do to revive our economy, to keep these projects moving, because we are going to have something of value to show for it when they are done.
I thank the senator.