This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) that would have increased funding for the Army Corps of Engineers construction projects by $186 million. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Energy Department programs and the Army Corps of Engineers in fiscal year 2012.
Tierney urged support for his amendment: “The business community, from ports to barge operators to agricultural exporters, depends on a marine transportation system to move goods to domestic and international markets. They are also important parts of the nation's economic engine and are drivers for job creation in America. Maintaining our Federal channels to their authorized and required dimensions is a critical part of ensuring that this commerce can continue uninterrupted. Yet we continue to have a significant dredging backlog, and I am concerned that this bill's allocation for the Army Corps is insufficient to appropriately address that backlog. It doesn't just affect commerce; it impacts people's lives very intimately as well. I hear from constituents in my district, particularly those in Newburyport and the Plum Island part of Newbury, who tell me that their homes are quite literally about to fall into the ocean unless the Army Corps can rehabilitate a jetty that hasn't been repaired in 40 years. That's not an uncommon story on our waterways.”
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) opposed Tierney’s amendment: “I share in the gentleman's support for smart investments in our Nation's water resources infrastructure and in the good work of the Army Corps of Engineers. I well understand on the committee the economic benefits of spending money on these needs. At the same time, we cannot ignore the importance of addressing our nation's deficit problem and the other priorities of the bill, namely national defense and scientific innovation….The underlying bill balances these important goals, in part, by reducing the construction account from the fiscal year 2011 enacted level…With this level of funding, we are working to reduce the deficit, funding our national defense needs, supporting scientific innovation, and at the same time allowing the Corps to continue progress on the most critical water resources investments.”
The House rejected Tierney’s amendment by a vote of 162-246. Voting “yea” were 142 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 20 Republicans. 212 Republicans and 34 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have increased funding for the Army Corps of Engineers construction projects by $186 million.