Nightly News   |  October 17, 2013

Billions in new spending added in bill to reopen government

Congressional leaders were defensive about the money added for favored projects during closed-door negotiations, such as the Ohio River Waterway project that dates back to the ‘80s. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports.

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>>> this was damage control day for a lot of members of congress. it was also when we learned more about what more is in this bill. you may recall the terminology we heard all the time, it was supposed to be clean legislation just designed to fix that debt ceiling, get the government up and running again. we get that part of this story from nbc's kelly o'donnell on the hill. kelly , good evening.

>> reporter: good to see you again, brian . for many republicans they're now at that acceptance phase after a bruising defeat. many are admitting mistakes, assessing responsibility, and one of the most divisible figures started the day trying to mend some wounds.

>> he greeted visitors and veterans outside the reopened capitol. lawmakers headed out of town after the late-night vote, and house speaker john boehner turned up on twitter, his photo snapped at an airport gate today. the shutdown leaves new political baggage for the republican party to carry.

>> i think a lot of folks that thought this might be a productive strategy have learned that it's really not.

>> reporter: the conservative conflict is over the flawed strategy of making the budget fight about obamacare. today the most senior represent can senator utah's orren hatch blamed outside groups for stalking imperial battles.

>> they think they can control the republican party , some of which have been good think tanks in the past but now are losing their reputation because of some of this radicalness.

>> are you referring to heritage?

>> well, yeah. of course, i am.

>> reporter: the shutdown opened up a new rash of criticism aimed at congress.

>> i want to make a matter of record, i did not ask for that.

>> reporter: billions of new spending was added for favored projects during closed door negotiations to reopen the government. like this ohio river waterway project dating back to the 1980s . nbc's gabe gutierrez was there today.

>> reporter: there's been delay after delay, but supporters here inst it needs to be finished to replace two crumbling lochs upstream.

>> harry reid expected the scrutiny.

>> this is not an earmark. it saves the taxpayers lots of money.

>> reporter: today democratic house leader nancy pelosi said she had been kept in the dark .

>> was this crisis really the right time to add things that didn't have anything to do with reopening the government? i don't think any of that should be in the bills. i don't know how that got in there. in fact, i displayed my own dismay at -- only learned of it because i was saying, what's holding up the bill?

>> reporter: clearly nancy pelosi was frustrated, though she says the list of add-ones is small compared to the need to reopen the government. and so much of the attention today, brian , focused on that ohio project because it benefits one of the states that is home

to leadership: kentucky. that brought to mind mitch mcconnell who says while he has supported in the past says he did not make that special request in this deal. brian ?

>> kelly o'donnell on all the business at capitol hill tonight.