Right-wing media seized on Rep. Bart Stupak's (D-MI) recent announcement that three airports in his district received federal grant money in order to baselessly claim the Obama administration bribed him for his vote on health care reform. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that the airport funds are related to Stupak's vote, and indeed, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded grants in 47 states -- including one in Minority Leader John Boehner's district -- as part of a decades-old airport improvement program.
FAA grants were awarded in nearly every state
Stupak: "[T]hree airports in northern Michigan have received grants totaling $726,409." On March 19, Stupak's office issued a press release announcing that “three airports in northern Michigan have received grants totaling $726,409 for airport maintenance and improvements.” The press release states that airports in Alpena, Delta, and Chippewa counties all received funds.
FAA approved grants in 47 states -- not just Stupak's district. FAA issued the grants as a part of its Airport Improvement Program (AIP). For fiscal year 2010, FAA approved grants in 47 states and in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and Guam.
Airport Improvement Program has existed since the early 1980s. According to FAA, the AIP was established in 1982. The program “provides grants to public agencies -- and, in some cases, to private owners and entities -- for the planning and development of public-use airports that are included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS).” The NPIAS “identifies public-use airports that are important to public transportation and contribute to the needs of civil aviation, national defense, and the Postal service.”
Districts of Republican congressmen also awarded grants
Airport in Pence's district awarded funds. FAA awarded an airport in Anderson, Indiana -- which is in Rep. Mike Pence's district -- with $75,000 for airport improvements.
11 airports in Young's district awarded funds. FAA awarded funding to 11 airports in Alaska -- all of which are represented by Rep. Don Young. In total, airports in Alaska have received more than $56 million in FAA grants.
Airport in King's district awarded funds. FAA awarded $394,969 to an airport in Sioux City, Iowa -- which is located in Rep. Steve King's district.
Airport in Kingston's district awarded funds. FAA awarded $2.7 million to an airport in Brunswick, Georgia -- which is in Rep. Jack Kingston's district.
Airport in Bachmann's district awarded funds. FAA awarded $75,000 to an airport in Paynesville, Minnesota -- which appears to be in Rep. Michele Bachmann's district.
Conservative media accuse administration of bribing Stupak for health care vote
McCaughey: Grants “may have had something to do with his decision.” Citing Stupak's press release, Betsy McCaughey said on Fox News' Hannity: “It may be that Bart Stupak was not bamboozled by the executive order. It's clear that executive orders cannot change the law. But on Friday, Stupak announced over $700,000 in brand new federal funding for three small airports in his district. Now, that may be coincidence, but it seems to me as if it may have had something to do with his decision,” adding that “they're buying votes for their bill with our money.” Host Sean Hannity replied, “Airport kickback?” [Hannity, 3/22/10]
Big Journalism: Stupak is a “cheap date.” On BigGovernment.com, Izzy Lyman wrote: “Holy Mackinac Bridge, Batman. The blogosphere is calling Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) a 'cheap date.' ... Considering what it took to get him to vote for the U.S. Senate health care bill, that's a fitting way to describe Slick Stupak. According to Stupak, he struck a deal with President Obama, trading his 'yes' vote for a 'worthless, non-binding' executive order prohibiting federal funding for abortions. And perhaps an airport or three."
Instapundit: “A STUPAK PAYOFF?” On the blog Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds wrote: “A STUPAK PAYOFF? 'U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) announced three airports in northern Michigan have received grants totaling $726,409 for airport maintenance and improvements. The funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration.' Probably just a coincidence."
Sweetness & Light: "[W]e like to think that our politicians aren't being bought and sold at such low prices." On the conservative blog Sweetness & Light, Steve Gilbert quoted from Stupak's press release and wrote: “It's just a coincidence, no doubt. And there is surely a lot more to come. At least we like to think that our politicians aren't being bought and sold at such low prices.”
Right-wing media repeatedly smear Democrats with allegations of “special deals” in health bill
Right-wing media have repeatedly attacked health care reform and smeared Democrats with baseless allegations that the Obama administration has attempted to buy votes or has cut “special deals” or “bribes” for health care reform.