(H.R. 3081) On the Flake of Arizona amendment, which would have eliminated an $8 million special educational, professional, and cultural exchange grants program
This was a vote on am amendment offered by Rep. Flake (R-AZ) to the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the State Department and its foreign operations. The amendment would have eliminated a one-time $8 million special educational, professional, and cultural exchange grants program from the bill. Rep. Flake had been a leading opponent of “earmarks in spending bills. 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. He noted that the report accompanying H.R. 3081 said there were no earmarks in the bill. Flake referenced this grant program and said “I would have to disagree.”
Flake noted that the report accompanying the bill also said that the State Department was to award the grants on a competitive basis. He then argued that: “The problem here is the fact that the report also says, The Secretary is encouraged to consider the following proposals for this competitive program, and then it lists several specific exchange programs.” Flake said he had “been a long supporter of cultural exchange programs, (but) I am also supportive of these grants being awarded on a competitive basis. The recommendations of funding for these 12 specific programs certainly look like earmarks to me and certainly look like earmarks to a handful of Members who requested them, so much so that they actually listed the earmark requests on their Web sites --a number of them did. So to them it looked like an earmark . . . .”
Rep. Lowey (D-NY), the chair of the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed H.R. 3081, opposed the amendment. She noted that the amount in the bill for these grants was already $33 million below the amount requested by the Obama Administration and that the Flake Amendment would reduce the amount in this category to more than $40 million below the administration request.
Lowey then argued that the legislation did not include any earmarks. She said: “(G)rants under this program are required to be competitively awarded . . . All entities highlighted in the report under the Special Grants Program must compete with all other applicants, whether listed in the report or not.”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 164-268. One hundred and fifty-one Republicans and thirteen Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and forty-three Democrats and twenty-five Republicans, voted “nay”. As a result, the level of funding for the special educational, professional, and cultural exchange grants program in the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the State Department was not reduced.