The S.C. Stimulus Standoff?

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Well, it hasn't quite reached that level of intensity yet, but that's almost what's going on between South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and the federal government. The anti-stimulus governor last week requested a waiver that would allow him to use some stimulus money ($700 million slated to be used for education) to instead pay off his state's debts, sparking the ire of Democrats and some Republicans who insist that the money should be "spent" in the more traditional sense, to try to improve education and save teachers' jobs.

Today, the Office of Management and Budget turned down the request, stating that Sanford is bound by the stimulus bill (now the stimulus law) to spend the money as Congress has delineated. OMB Director Peter Orszag wrote that, of the education money in the stimulus, "by statute, the State allocation must be used" as determined by the bill, for various education purposes.

The governor's office now says it will narrow the request and resubmit it to the Obama administration: "We're in the process of drafting a response that will go back to the White House tomorrow, which will more narrowly tailor our request to pay off debt in a way consistent with the Administration's response. We believe there is a way to do so," Sanford Communications Director Joel Sawyer said.

We'll have to wait and see how much narrower the request gets (e.g. to use the money to pay off more narrowly defined, education-incurred debts?), and what OMB has to say about it.

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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