This vote was on an amendment by John McCain, R-Ariz., that would prohibit funds in the bill from being used to preserve the photo archive collection of the Durham Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. The amendment was offered to the bill that funds the activities and operations of the legislative branch in fiscal 2010.
McCain said the bill contains $200,000 for the museum, which already has almost $11 million in assets.
“Apparently, the Senator from Nebraska thinks they need a couple hundred grand extra—on the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill. I am sure it is a fine museum, a wonderful museum, and it gets many visitors from all over the great State of Nebraska. I just came from the great State of Arizona, and do you know what. Storefronts are closing, people are losing their jobs, and unemployment is up,” McCain said. “What makes this museum so needy of the taxpayers’ dollars? What is it about the Durham Museum in Omaha, NE, that says we need $200,000? Well, they don’t, obviously. We should not be earmarking these kinds of funds. This is a Legislative Branch Appropriations bill to fund the functioning of Congress, the legislative branch, not a museum in Omaha, NE, which I am sure is a wonderful place.”
Ben Nelson, D-Neb., who as chairman of the legislative branch appropriations subcommittee primarily drafted the bill, said the museum has a close and longstanding relationship with the Library of Congress. He said the money would be used to preserve and digitize the museum’s photo archive collection in conjunction with the Library of Congress.
“While I understand my colleague and I may disagree on the larger philosophical issue about the role of Congress to set spending priorities, I note that this project relates explicitly to the goals and purposes of the Library to expand access to our Nation’s most treasured documents and artifacts. It will, through this partnership, make these historical images accessible nationally. It is funded here for that reason,” Nelson said.
By a vote of 31-61, the amendment was rejected. Of Republicans present, 27 voted for the amendment and 10 voted against it. All but four Democrats present voted against the amendment. The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have prohibited $200,000 from going to the Durham Museum in Nebraska.