The (S)Upper House

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As least that’s what senators like to think of the Senate. They refer disparagingly to the House as “the other body,” as if they’re brushing crumbs from their lap after some fund-raising dinner. Senators – many of whom view themselves as Presidents-in-waiting – get to ratify treaties and confirm top Administration officials as well as military officers. So you wouldn’t think they’d get as down-in-the-weeds as their House counterparts when it comes to pork.

But a Wednesday hearing, which featured the Air Force’s top two officials testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee defense subcommittee, suggested such thinking is flat-out wrong. Amid a flagging war in Afghanistan, war-weary personnel, big problems with the F-35 jet fighter program, and chatter about launching military campaigns against Iran and Syria, the recurring theme amid tough economic times is: show me the money.

Apparently, House members focus narrowly on home-district pork. But senators have an entire state’s worth of the other white meat to protect. A quick tally through the transcript shows that eight of the nine senators asking questions spent much of their time on decidedly local issues:

Are any of these decisions that you’ve been making to shut down operations, like in Meridian, Mississippi and other places, final decisions?

— Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss

I want to ask a question about the A-10s [the Air Force is retiring]. As you know, the 122nd Fighter Wing at Fort Wayne is home to those A-10s.

— Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind.

Many of us were stunned about the plan that you have to remove eight of the C-130s from the Fort Worth Joint Base, from the 136th Airlift Wing, and to move those to Great Falls, Montana.

— Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas

There is no competitive bidding and that there is a company, a California company that could competitively bid, come 2014, and reduce the per-unit cost per…booster core from $420 million to $60 million over a contract term, therefore saving literally billions of dollars.

— Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

But I still have a very difficult time understanding a proposal that would somehow possibly decrease our presence in Alaska when the administration says that we’re going to focus our attention on the Asia and the Pacific.

— Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska

…and Battleland’s favorite:

What’s the exact timeline for getting the C-17s to Memphis?

— Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.