WASHINGTON — Republicans tried to put some heat on Sen. Harry Reid last week over the record $8 billion that was put into the economic stimulus bill at the last minute for high-speed rail. But it looks like there may be only so much blame — or credit — that can be attributed to the Senate majority leader from Nevada.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has stepped forward to say he was the one who insisted on jacking up funding for rail in the bill, carrying out an order from President Barack Obama during late negotiations.
"I put it in there for the president," Emanuel told Politico. "The president wanted to have a signature issue in the bill."
Likewise, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood defended the funding as "not just a Reid earmark."
Not that Reid objected. Under the bill, the proposed maglev train between Las Vegas and Anaheim, Calif., one of his pet projects, would be among those eligible to apply.
Politico reporter David Rogers wrote there was little evidence that Reid had a decisive role, but Reid said he was happy nonetheless.
"I’m glad I get the credit in Nevada," Reid told the newspaper. "I’ll take credit but frankly didn’t have much to do with it other than carry forward what Obama wanted."