Clyburn seeks way around Sanford

U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn

COLUMBIA — U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Thursday he's trying to find a way to get South Carolina federal stimulus money even if Republican Gov. Mark Sanford is against such help.

"We ought to make it possible for the money to be there for the governor if he has the vision to use it on behalf of the people who he should be representing," Clyburn, D-S.C., said in a telephone interview from his Washington office.

"But if he does not have the vision to use it, then we ought to have in this legislation mechanisms by which cities and counties and councils of government and other public-private entities can access this money if it goes against he grain of the governor's political sensibilities."

Sanford, the new chairman of the Republican Governors' Association, has cut a high profile on the issue in op-ed pieces and on news talks shows, including Sunday's appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press."

When president-elect Barack Obama met with the nation's governors last month, Sanford told him another federal economic stimulus package would hurt, not help, the economy.

His opposition to a stimulus package brings worries in South Carolina, where $1 billion lost from the state's $7 billion budget since July has cut deeply into health programs for the aged, disabled and children, including hospice care programs ending for some Medicaid recipients and meal deliveries cut for the homebound.

Sanford's opposition has had Clyburn for weeks talking with legislators here and in Washington about what to do to make sure money reaches South Carolina, where the unemployment rate is the nation's third highest.

The governor isn't ready to rule out taking stimulus cash from a program approaching $1 trillion, including tax relief, aid to states and building projects. But legislators here already are fretting about what might lie ahead.

"We as legislators need to start asking questions about what we need to do to stop Mark Sanford from stopping aide that may be coming to South Carolina," state Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Columbia, said last week.

Clyburn also is trying to make sure rural parts of states get the aid they need.

"You've got to make sure you write this bill in such a way that rural people will benefit from it, and rural transportation programs can be put in place. Because it's one thing that we've got jobs but something else for people to be able to get jobs," he said.