Lawmakers are accustomed to hearing the NIMBY ("Not in my back yard") refrain from constituents angered by unwelcome intrusions in their neighborhoods. Now they are hearing it from each other.
Sens. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brought work on the District appropriations bill to a halt Wednesday when they proposed an amendment -- only coincidentally related to D.C. -- that would empower states to bar out-of-state garbage from their landfills.
"Kentucky does not want to be the dumping ground for the nation's garbage," complained McConnell, who, like Coats, is running this fall. The situation has become so bad in Indiana, said Coats, that the tiny community of Center Point (pop. 250) is visited by 30 to 50 tractor trailers every day carrying refuse from the East Coast, adding up so far to 240 million pounds of someone else's garbage.
Coats made no secret of the fact that the proposal was aimed at trash-rich New York and New Jersey, prompting strong objections from those states' senators, led by Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.). Faced with an impasse, Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) laid the D.C. spending bill aside and suggested negotiations to resolve the dispute. The garbage summit, as one aide described it, is now underway.