This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Campbell (R-CA), which would have eliminated a $1,500.000 earmark for the Model for Green Laboratories and Clean Rooms project. It was offered to H.R. 3326, the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Defense Department. A number of Republicans, including Rep. Campbell, had been critical of “earmarks”, or legislatively mandated projects such as this one, that were inserted at the request of individual Members into funding bills. They had been offering a series of amendments to delete many of those earmarks.
Campbell, in his statement on behalf of the amendment, acknowledged that it is Congress' right to say how funds are to be spent.” He then said: “(H)owever, there is a right way to do that and there is a wrong way to do that.” Campbell argued that singling out funds in legislation for “no-bid, going-to-private-companies earmarks . . . is not the proper way to do it.” He argued that if this equipment is necessary, it should be procured “under competitive bidding and get at least three bids and pick that which is deemed to be the highest quality and the lowest cost.”
Rep. Murtha (D-PA), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed H.R. 3326, opposed the amendment. He first pointed to a recent policy that had been adopted by the Appropriations Committee, which read: “The use of Member earmarks awarded to for-profit entities as a functional equivalent of no-bid contracts is ended. In cases where the committee funds an earmark designated for a for-profit entity, the committee includes legislative language requiring the executive branch to nonetheless issue a request for proposal that gives other entities an opportunity to apply and requires the agency to evaluate all bids received and make a decision based on merit. The legislative language included in the bills requires `full and open competition.’” Murtha also noted that H.R. 3326 also contained language requiring that projects considered to be congressional earmarks “when awarded to a for-profit entity, shall be awarded under full and open competition.”
He added that it was necessary that medical facilities used by the Defense Department “are clean” and that the funding in H.R.3326 “provides for development, renovation, (and) maintenance, to test the environmental sustainable laboratories, hospitals, and clean rooms for drug development.”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 99-338. Ninety-three Republicans and six Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and fifty-three Democrats and eighty-five Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the earmark for the Model for Green Laboratories and Clean Rooms project remained in the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of Defense.