This was a vote on the Campbell (R-CA) Amendment to H.R. 2996, the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The amendment would have eliminated $150,000 in funds in the bill that had been “earmarked” for the Village Park Historic Project of the Traditional Arts in Canton, New York. An earmark is a project that benefits only a specific constituency or geographic area, which is inserted into a spending bill by an individual Member. A number of Republicans had been attempting to remove earmarks from a series of spending bills that Congress had been considering. This was one of those efforts.
Rep. Campbell, in his statement in support of his amendment, first said he didn’t doubt that this is an important project to the Member who had it inserted in the bill. He also said “I don’t doubt at all that this is an important project perhaps to the citizens of that area of New York . . . (but) the question basically is this, that we're going to have a $2 trillion deficit this year. Forty-six cents of every single dollar spent will be borrowed . . . Is this something that, in these times, with the deficits and debt that we have, is this the sort of thing that rises to the level of a national priority such that we should borrow forty-six cents on the dollar, increase the deficit further, increase the debt further, and put ourselves in these kinds of problems?”
Rep. Dicks (D-WA), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed H.R. 2996, opposed the amendment. He said that the subcommittee had “checked on this project. We think this is a great project. We think it's worthy. We think it provides a lot of public good.”
Rep. McHugh (R-NY), who was responsible for having this earmark included in the bill, agreed that “we have an economic challenge in this country.” He then noted that the area in which the project is located is a “region that has long been confronted by economic challenges--closed factories, abandoned mills, failing farms, declining populations.” McHugh said “economic development is . . . something that we take very seriously, but it has to be configured around those things that the good Lord has given to us: the great universities--four of them within 10 miles of this facility; the tourism, which is our number one industry . . . the need to bring economic development by revitalizing downtown centers (and) . . . the organization to which this money will go is a not-for-profit organization . . . in Canton, New York (that is) . . . attempting to do all of the things I listed: bring economic development through vitalizing tourism . . . .”
McHugh then dealt with the issue of earmarks and said he had “a difference of philosophy” with Rep. Campbell - - that Campbell “doesn't believe that it's the opportunity and the right of Members of Congress to come here and to do within the rules and regulations, within the standards established by this House . . . to provide a little bit of help--in this case, $150,000--to bring a difference where the unemployment rate is pushing over 10 percent.”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 122-309. One hundred and twelve Republicans and ten Democrats vote “aye”. Two hundred and forty-six Democrats and sixty-three Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the $150,000 earmarked for the Village Park Historic Project of the Traditional Arts in Canton, New York remained in H.R. 2996.