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Politics Northwest

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings’ Central Washington district received more federal money per capita from the 2009 stimulus act than any other congressional district in the country.

That’s the conclusion released Thursday by three economists from The Brookings Institution, who tracked how $308 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was dispersed around the nation.

They also determined that Hastings’ 4th Congressional District snagged more than 500 times as much per resident as the bottom-ranked district of former Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York.

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Hastings voted against the recovery act, as did all 175 other Republicans in the House. Only three Republicans voted for it in the Senate.

The authors analyzed whether lawmakers steered stimulus dollars to their districts, either to benefit their re-election prospects or to help their party. They found no such evidence.

Instead, they found the stimulus money was largely doled out with little correlation to members’ clout, seniority or even their districts’ unemployment rates. The authors attributed this to the fact that much of the money — part of $787 billion appropriated by Congress in an attempt to juice a collapsed economy — was distributed to states by formula or through competition.

(The report contains at least one error: It says Hastings’ 4th District includes Spokane, which is actually represented by Hastings’ fellow Republican, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Ethan Kaplan, an economist at the University of Maryland and one of the paper’s authors, said Friday the mistake was only a descriptive error and did not alter the study’s findings.)

Some of the largest individual stimulus awards went to clean up the Hanford radioactive-waste site near Richland, in Hastings’ district. The spending at Hanford boosted the infusion of stimulus money in his district to $3,750 per person, the highest of 334 congressional districts studied. Weiner’s district got the least, $7 per person.

In Washington, some of the stimulus money paid for highway construction and repairs, green-energy projects and home renovations that reduced utility costs — projects for which lawmakers such as Sen. Patty Murray and then-Rep. Jay Inslee claimed part of the credit.

Some two-thirds of the total stimulus investment — which the report estimated eventually will total $840 billion over 10 years — went to tax breaks and entitlement programs, including extended unemployment benefits and “cash for clunkers” auto rebates.

Kyung Song: 202-383-6108 or Twitter: @KyungMSong

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