This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Campbell (R-CA) to H.R. 2847, the fiscal year 2010 appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice and for federal science and other programs. H.R. 2847 was a multi-billion measure that, among other things, expanded funding for criminal justice programs, and provided for improved scientific research, including programs to study climate change. The amendment would prohibit the expenditure of $600,000, which was in the bill for the Summer Flounder and Black Sea Initiative project of the Partnership for Mid-Atlantic Fisheries in New Jersey. Republican Members offered a series of amendments, of which this was one, to remove small “earmarked” projects from H.R. 2847. An earmark is the provision of funds in a major appropriation bill for a specific project or purpose.
Campbell began his remarks in support of his amendment by noting that “we are spending more money than we are taking in here in the Federal Government by about nearly 2 trillion . . . Part of that includes a $407.6 billion appropriation bill already passed just this year in this Congress which contained close to 9,000 earmarks. . . .This $2 trillion deficit is the largest deficit as a percent of our economy of any year since World War II.”
He went on to say: “(W)e're spending too much money on waste. We're spending too much money on duplicative and ineffective programs, and we're spending too much money on earmarks . . . like the one that is before us . . . for . . . $600,000 more spending, on top of the $4 trillion we're already spending, on top of creating $600,000 more deficit, and this is just one of what I'm sure will be thousands of earmarks in all of these appropriations bills for summer flounder and other fish. Can the flounders get along without this $600,000? I think they can . . . .”
Rep. Bishop (D-NY) opposed the amendment. He said that he was one of the Members who requested these funds “along with my colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats from New Jersey and New York, because the research to be conducted will help stimulate an industry that is critically important to my region--precisely what our economy is calling for and precisely the opposite of what has been suggested by (Rep. Campbell). . . on Long Island, the fishing industry is a source of $2 billion to the local economy and sustains more than 10,000 full and part-time jobs.”
Bishop also argued: “(T)his request is not a typical earmark. It does not serve only a single district. It was not requested by one member or one party. It is not a crutch for a fading industry . . . the Partnership will serve critical needs in the region known as the Mid-Atlantic Bight, where the recreational and commercial fishing industries--and the jobs and families that support them--depend on summer flounder and black sea bass for their livelihood. Providing data based on the best possible science--as this research funding provides--is vital to the health of our fisheries and the economic well-being of our fishermen. If you support a down-payment on job creation and a prudent investment of taxpayer dollars in the future of this economy, vote against this misguided amendment . . . .” Rep. Pallone (D-NJ) echoed the remarks of Rep. Bishop and claimed that “(T)he Partnership for Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Science is incredibly important to the commercial and recreational fishing industry on the east coast . . . The Partnership for Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Science . . . is a multi-state multi-institutional partnership that will (help) . . . to create healthy sustainable fisheries and protect the fishing industry.”
The vote was 102-317. Ninety-five Republicans and seven Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and forty-one Democrats and seventy-six Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the House rejected the amendment and the funding for the Mid-Atlantic Summer Flounder and Black Sea Initiative project was preserved in the appropriation.