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Alexander to hold up Corps funds over fishing restrictions
After voicing opposition to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to restrict fishing near dams located on the Cumberland river, Senator Lamar Alexander told Corps officials last week that if they follow through with their proposal he would hold up budget requests for the agency.Alexander, the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, made the remarks during a senate appropriations subcommittee hearing last Wednesday on the Corps’ 2014 budget.The Corps’ plan would entail permanently-restricted access to areas below the structures, including Center Hill Dam.All access to the water within the restricted areas will be prohibited, including boating, swimming and wading.While it is common knowledge that the water from the dams on the Cumberland and its tributaries becomes dangerous when released by the Corps, several lawmakers from Tennessee and Kentucky, officials of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, have joined anglers in opposition of the plan.The TWRA, which patrols the areas in question, has said that they will not to enforce the restrictions.In defending the plan, the Corps cites safety as its top priority.In his remarks to Corps officials last week, Alexander made it clear that implementation of the plan would have repercussions for the Corps.“You are really thumbing your nose at the elected officials of the people of this country,” Alexander, R-Tenn., said at the hearing.“You ought to be paying attention to our judgment on this, especially when so many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have made themselves clear on this.”The potential hang up for the Corps is that they need the approval of Alexander and the subcommittee’s chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, (D-California) to transfer money from one account to another. Alexander told Corps officials that they will find it impossible to get his approval for such “reprogramming” requests “until I get the Corps’ attention on this issue.”“We don’t need Big Brother in Washington holding our hands while we’re fishing down in Tennessee or Kentucky or any other place,” Alexander said to Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy. “If you’re not going to pay attention to the elected representatives of Tennessee and Kentucky and other states, I’m not going to pay attention to your judgment.