Duffy might have used earmark to help pay for Northwoods water main breaks, if he couldSubmitted: 04/24/2014

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer

NORTHWOODS - Water main breaks from this harsh winter will cost Northwoods communities millions of dollars.

The U.S. Congress might want to help.

Under old rules, northern Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Weston) might have tried to get direct federal money to help pay for repairs.

He can't anymore.

Congress used to have the power to earmark money for specific projects across the country.

But that hasn't been allowed since 2010.

"If we were still earmarking in Congress, this would be one that would be considered through the earmark process. But again, it was abused at a pretty disgusting level, and that's why it's gone," Duffy said.

Lawmakers used earmarks to send money for big projects in their home state.

That could help them gain popularity and win reelection.

The practice is gone.

But Duffy might have used it for water main repair projects in Northwoods communities if it was still around.

"They're not bursting at the seams with revenue. They don't have the resources to fix, many times, very, very old infrastructure," he said.

Instead, the state may apply for federal disaster aid to help pay for the work.

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