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Blunt urges focus on infrastructure as floodwaters approach Missouri

(via Flickr/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Carlos J. Lazo)
Water surges from the open gates of the Oahe Stilling basin, located just north of Pierre, S.D. on June 5. U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt is worried about the number of levees that could be overtopped as the flood rushes downstream.

Mo. Republican Roy Blunt says he's carefully watching a wave of water that will make its way down the Missouri River over the next few days and is already forcing evacuations in Iowa.

Blunt told reporters on a weekly conference call on Tuesday that more than 50 levees along the river in Missouri could be overtopped as more water is released from upstream dams.

That's a worst-case scenario, and just three of those 50 levees are managed by the federal government. But Blunt says it should force the government to take a close look at infrastructure and its spending priorities.

"We’re so overwhelmed now by the entitlement side of the budget every other thing that the federal government has done since the Corps of Engineers was founded, for example, seems to be taking a back seat," Blunt said.

In addition he faulted the earmark ban adopted last November, saying most levee projects were specific budget items.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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