Sharice Davids requests water project funding for her district, then votes AGAINST the bill to provide it

WASHINGTON D.C. – Federal funding for Garnett’s water plant project and numerous other projects in Kansas won a narrow approval in the U.S. Congress last week, despite a ‘nay’ vote by 3rd District Congresswoman Sharice Davids that would have stopped funding for Garnett’s project and others in her district. 

Some of the funding in the appropriation was earmarked to go toward rehabilitation or reconstruction of aging water treatment facilities in Garnett, DeSoto, Olathe, Edgerton and Johnson County. (Anderson County Review photo illustration)

House Resolution 4821 contained nearly $4.8 million in funding for separate water treatment projects in Garnett, Olathe, DeSoto, Edgerton and Johnson County – all projects within the Kansas 3rd District. The projects were among various clean water projects across the country – part of a massive appropriations bill funding expenses budgeted in the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency and other associated departments. 

Republicans slashed 35 percent of the total initial funding request down to $25.4 billion – cutting the EPA’s own individual appropriation by 39 percent in what GOP members termed a more fiscally responsible version, also meant to strike against Democrat-led anti-energy policies and EPA regulation. That move rallied Davids and other Democrats to vote against the bill, including its associated Kansas projects, which eventually passed the House 213-203. It now moves to the Senate for consideration. 

Eleven Democrats and six Republicans did not vote on the measure. Republicans, anxious to move against rapidly expanding federal spending that exceeds annual tax revenues and a national debt of some $31 trillion, noted the appropriation was less than that approved for those same areas in 2018. The reductions didn’t sit well with Democrats, only one of which voted for the package. 

Davids’ media spokesman Zac Donely said the congresswoman has supported various other infrastructure bills in congress and was the only member of the state delegation to vote for last year’s massive infrastructure bill, which funded projects but mainly drove funding into the president’s green energy agenda. Donely did not address the 3rd District projects directly. 

“The legislation Rep. Davids voted against would endanger public health,strain the economy, increase costs,and decrease natural disaster preparedness,” Donely said. 

Garnett had requested $5 million through Davids’ office for the estimated $22 million project during the 2024 round of federal funding requests administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. The plan would construct a new water treatment facility to replace the 1930s-era plant which city officials say is nearing the end of its serviceable life. If approved by the Senate and signed by President Biden, the bill approved last week would provide $959,000 of the $5 million request for the project. 

Garnett City Commissioner Mark Locke said he had contacted Davids’ office regarding the vote but had not yet received a call back. 

“This is unacceptable,” Locke told the Review. “She needs to tell us why she would not support projects in her own district.” 

Commissioner Jody Cole said Davids’ vote smacked of coarse politics.

“For Sharice Davids to say the health and safety of Garnett’s drinking water isn’t a responsible request for funding our water treatment plant is absolutely callous,” Cole said. “This is not to mention her voting “no” is a complete flip-flop on her campaign promise of advocating funds for exactly these types of projects in Kansas.”

Republican critics were quick to point out the irony in Davids’ request for funds, then voting against the bill that would have awarded a reduced amount for the projects. 

“This is funding she requested, then turned around and voted against because her party bosses demanded it,” said Delanie Bomar, spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.“You have to be afflicted withBeltway Brain to think voting against projects benefiting your district makes sense.”

Dane Hicks is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at Quantico, VA. He is the author of novels "The Skinning Tree" and "A Whisper For Help." As publisher of the Anderson County Review in Garnett, KS., he is a recipient of the Kansas Press Association's Boyd Community Service Award as well as more than 60 awards for excellence in news, editorial and photography.