This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Campbell (R-CA) to H.R. 2847, the fiscal year 2010 appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice and for federal science and other programs. H.R. 2847was a multi-billion measure that, among other things, expanded funding for criminal justice programs, and provided for improved scientific research, including programs to study climate change. The amendment would prohibit the expenditure of $180,000, which was in the bill for a project at San Jose State University called Training the Next Generation of Weather Forecasters. Republican Members offered a series of amendments, of which this was one, to remove small “earmarked” projects from H.R. 2847. An earmark is the provision of funds in a major appropriation bill for a specific project or purpose.
Rep. Campbell began his statement in support of the amendment by acknowledging that “weather forecasting is a fine profession, and I'm sure San Jose State does a fine job teaching weather forecasters . . . .” Campbell then went on to say: “(T)he question is, do we want to borrow . . . another $180,000 for this purpose? Do we want to subsidize the training at this university and not subsidize it anywhere else it is done? Is this $180,000 so critical--because we really shouldn't be spending anything right now and borrowing more money unless it's really critical to our needs in the future . . . .”
Campbell also echoed statements that had been made by several other Republican Members during consideration of H.R. 2847 when he said “this Nation right now is awash in debt. The Federal deficit is around $11 trillion, I think, at last count, but I think it's going up so fast, about $2 trillion a year (and) . . . 46 cents of every dollar spent by the Federal Government, spent by this Congress on the budget this year will be borrowed . . . We have to stop spending and borrowing so much money.”
Rep. Honda, (D-CA), who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, led the opposition to the amendment. He first argued that global warming “may well be the most important problem facing our world today . . . (and) this important project (will) help us deal with it.” He added that many Republican Members “may wish to keep their heads in the sand about global warming, but I believe we need to prepare to deal with the problem today.” Honda went on to say: (O)ne of the keys to dealing with these changes is going to be adaptation, developing ways to protect people and places by reducing their vulnerability to climate changes. To properly adapt to more extreme climate events, we need to have more data, accurate weather forecasting, (and) weather forecasters trained to predict the extreme events expected with climate change can give the American people the advanced warning needed to deal with--or even escape from, if necessary--these dangers and avoid tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina.”
Rep. Honda also noted that this funding is “a one time shot” and that San Jose State “will seek other funding sources in order to offer the class after it has been geared up. But to get the program started, I think it is perfectly appropriate for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration to make a small investment in the development of a field experience course that will help to better train the next generation of weather forecasters to predict the extreme weather events that are expected to accompany climate change.” Honda concluded by quoting the mission of the Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, which would administer these funds, as being “dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events. The curriculum that the funding in this bill will complete will help (it) achieve this mission.”
The vote was 123-303. One hundred and seventeen Republicans and six Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and forty-six Democrats and fifty-seven Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the House rejected the amendment and the funding for the weather forecaster training project at San Jose State University was preserved in the appropriation.