How salmon increased the odds of a shutdown

The popular entree item somehow swam into the House’s version of a $982 billion spending bill that would fund the Pentagon and entire federal government from March 28 through Sept. 31. The delicious Pacific salmon weren’t alone, with a list of other items the military does not want added to the House measure, which contains a full-year Pentagon appropriations bill. And that didn’t sit well with Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

“We’re supposed to be cutting spending, yet they’re adding it,” McCain told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “It’s remarkable.”

In a joint statement issued Tuesday evening, the duo pointed to a House-passed provision calling for “$65 million for Pacific Coast salmon restoration for states including Nevada.” The two critics of President Barack Obama even noted the salmon effort was “mocked” by the president in his 2011 State of the Union address.

Here’s what Obama said in January 2011, saying the federal government needed to be reorganized in order to boost American competitiveness:

“The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in freshwater, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

On Wednesday morning, a flabbergasted McCain said he is shocked the House is adding special provisions for “salmon” he then paused and added some emphasis, for effect: “salmon!”

The Tuesday flap created quite a stir that moved what both Republicans and Democrats say is a must-pass bill from a fast-moving legislative river and into the frying pan of Washington gridlock. (Yes, like a salmon. Yes, pun intended.)

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