Republicans Signal Willingness to Change Coconut Road Funding

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The last time we checked in on Rep. Don Young’s (R-AK) extra-Constitutional Coconut Road earmark, Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) had just written the House Transportation Committee asking that it back local officials who want to spend the $10 million on its original purpose — rather than on the interchange popular only with an out-of-state real estate developer.

That appears likely to happen. A spokesman for the ranking Republican member on the committee Rep. John Mica (R-FL) said he supports allowing local authorities to use the money for the widening of Interstate 75 rather than Coconut Road, though how the process would play out is not entirely clear.

“I think however it is addressed going forward here, [Mica] would certainly want to do his best to make sure that it is done properly and technically correctly,” said spokesman Justin Harclerode.

The letter is waiting for chairman Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) to take a look, but his spokesman said he will likely let committee Republicans handle the issue.

“I don’t know what course of action we are going to take, but generally we defer to the minority party on [these requests],” said spokesman Jim Berard. “This was something that was inserted when the Republicans were in the majority, it was a Republican request and usually these are handled by the individual party.”

Berard also mentioned that Young — who is a member of the committee — will likely join in on the discussions because he is the original author of the earmark.