WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday killed another attempt by Sen. Tom Coburn to trim some "pork” from the 2008 transportation spending bill.

The 63 to 32 vote against Coburn's amendment protected:

•$450,000 for the International Peace Garden in North Dakota.
•$500,000 for a baseball stadium in Montana.
•Plans for a Wetland Center in Lake Charles, La.

Symbolic projects

Before the vote, Coburn, R-Muskogee, told his colleagues the projects weren't big, but were symbolic.

"It's not a great deal of money, but it will send a message to the American people about what our priorities are,” Coburn said.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said Coburn's proposal was more of the "bureaucrats know best” approach to spending money. Lawmakers often defend earmarks in spending bills by saying they know better than bureaucrats about where money should be spent.

"These are three projects that have great merit,” Dorgan said.

The vote Wednesday followed two defeats for Coburn on Tuesday on amendments aimed at redirecting money in the transportation bill. One of his amendments would have put all 500 earmarks in the bill on hold until the nation's structurally deficient bridges are fixed.

Inhofe fares better

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, had more success with the spending bill, which passed easily Wednesday. He said his language increasing the mandatory retirement age for commercial airline pilots from 60 to 65 was included.

"We must protect our most experienced pilots who are in danger of losing their jobs due to this arbitrary rule and ensure that American pilots are granted the same rights and privileges as foreign pilots in accordance with international age standards,” he said.

He also amended the bill to delay the Federal Aviation Administration's award of a new contract for training air traffic controllers.

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