This vote was on an amendment by Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., that would prohibit funds from going to the Kansas Regional Prisons Museum. The amendment was offered to the bill that funds the Labor, Health and Education departments in fiscal 2008.
Flake said the underlying bill would allocate $100,000 to a museum in Leavenworth County, Kansas, which is one of the few, if only, locations that hosts federal, state, military and private prisons.
"I’ve often joked that the way we splurge taxpayer funds on thousands of earmarks is a crime. But this earmark gives that sentiment a little new relevance. All told, it appears this prison museum addition would significantly increase the overall display area of the Lansing Historical Museum from roughly 1,500 square feet to nearly 8,000 square feet of display area. Here, I think it is a pretty clear case. It may have some local relevance, but asking taxpayers across the country to pay for a prison museum is probably not a wise use of funds here," Flake said.
Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., said Flake may find projects of importance to her region a joke, but that she does not.
"It is very easy for you to go tell the people of Arizona that you are tough on crime. But let me say that it is a very difficult thing to do, and we take a great deal of pride about it in Kansas. It does take a lot more than talk to say that you are tough on crime. The local residents are proud of their heritage and rightly so, and they see it as part of their responsibility to preserve this history," Boyda said, adding that local residents and businesses had raised $2 million of their own funding to make the museum a reality.
By a vote of 112-317, the amendment was rejected. Of Republicans present, 108 voted for the amendment and 92 voted against it. All but four Democrats present voted against the amendment. The end result is that the measure went forward with funding intact for a prison museum in Kansas.