Memphis rep. cited as one of Congress’ biggest spenders


By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, sponsored or co-sponsored bills in Congress last year which, whether enacted into law or not, totaled $143 billion, according to Tuesday’s Washington Examiner.

The news agency identified Cohen as one of 70 of Congress’s biggest spenders, and that list included Democrats and Republicans — although most, 65 of them, are Democrats.

Cohen’s press secretary, Ben Garmisa, did not immediately return Tennessee Watchdog’s messages left via phone and email.

Steve Cohen

The article itself did not specifically detail which individual bills Cohen proposed.

A 2011 Tennessee Watchdog article, however, showed Cohen made 44 spending requests totaling $124.5 million for fiscal 2011, the highest number of any of the nine Tennessee representatives in Congress that year.

Cohen’s earmark requests were also the most expensive of any Tennessee congressman or woman, as Tennessee Watchdog reported that year.

Among Cohen’s requests:

  • $100,000 for the Beale Street Caravan to preserve Memphis music.
  • $580,000 for Bridges USA, a program designed to train students about environmental sustainability and increase their understanding of green jobs.
  • $5 million to improve Elvis Presley Boulevard.
  • $1.7 million to improve affordable housing in the Memphis area.

Democrats in Congress sponsored 618 bills in 2013 that would have demanded at least $1.35 trillion of taxpayers; Republicans sponsored 147 bills worth $635 billion, the Examiner said.

“The figures provide an unusual insight into what members of Congress would do if they ran the show and had a free hand to spend tax dollars,” the Examiner said.

Most of the bills introduced by an individual senator or House member never make it to a floor vote, so they aren’t reflected in a member’s voting record and largely go unnoticed.”

The news agency identified Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Sen. Jack Reed, R-R.I., as among Congress’ other highest spenders in general.

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