What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Adequate Government Funding for a Broad Range of Human Needs : (H.R. 3183) On the Flake of Arizona amendment that would have eliminated a $1,600,000 earmark for the Boston Architectural College's Urban Sustainability Initiative from the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funds for energy and water development (2009 house Roll Call 587)
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(H.R. 3183) On the Flake of Arizona amendment that would have eliminated a $1,600,000 earmark for the Boston Architectural College's Urban Sustainability Initiative from the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funds for energy and water development
house Roll Call 587     Jul 17, 2009
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Flake (R-AZ) that would have eliminated a $1,600,000 earmark for the Boston Architectural College's Urban Sustainability Initiative from H.R. 3183, the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funds for energy and water development. 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, of which Rep. Flake was the most active, had been consistent critics of earmarks and had been offering a series of amendments to remove them from funding bills. This was one of those amendments.

Rep. Flake noted in his statement in support of the amendment that the funds in this earmark would be used to construct a project in the Back Bay area of Boston, which he described as “one of Boston's most high-rent neighborhoods.” Flake went on to say, “perhaps this program is worthy of Federal money. Perhaps it isn't. It should have to compete for it. If we don't like the way the Federal agencies have set up the programs for competition, we should change them . . . But instead, here we're saying we don't like the way you do it over there so we're going to create a parallel (earmark) system and we are going to do it ourselves, and that's simply not right.” Flake went on to say: “(E)armarks mean that you forego the competitive process. You circumvent it. You tell those that are competing for moneys like this, you will have to take a backseat because we're going to take that money that you could have competed for and we are going to give it to somebody else.” He concluded his remarks by arguing: “(W)e simply can't afford to continue to earmark dollars for this program or others when we're running a deficit that could approach $2 trillion this year.”

Rep. Capuano (D-MA), who was responsible for having the earmark inserted in H.R. 3183, acknowledged that Back Bay “is an affluent neighborhood”, but then added that the Boston Architectural College's “is not affluent. The neighborhood is not doing the work; the school is going to do it. The neighborhood will benefit from it in some indirect way because they all live near the Charles River. The storm water currently runs into the Charles River and pollutes it.” Capuano then added: “(T)his college does not have a lobbyist (and) . . . no one from the school has ever donated to my campaign.”

The amendment was defeated by a vote of 111-316. One hundred and six Republicans and five Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and fifty Democrats and sixty-six Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the earmark for the Boston Architectural College's Urban Sustainability Initiative remained in the energy and water development funding bill.

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