This was a vote on the Campbell (R-CA) Amendment to H.R. 2996, the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The amendment would have eliminated $150,000 in funds “earmarked” for the Historic Fort Payne Coal and Iron Building rehabilitation project in Fort Payne, Alabama. An earmark is a project that benefits only a specific constituency or geographic area, which is inserted into a spending bill by an individual Member. A number of Republicans had been attempting to remove earmarks from a series of spending bills that Congress had been considering.
Rep. Campbell, in his statement in support of the amendment, said that the rehabilitation of the historic Fort Payne Coal and Iron Building is the kind of project that should be paid for at the state or local level, and suggested that it is not “one of those things which rises to the level of . . . (receiving federal) taxpayer money.” He said that “budgets are about making choices. We cannot do it all. And when we do it all, we get into the problems that we are in today. We get into deficits that go on without end a trillion dollars or more.” Campbell went on to argue that “it is time that we look at these earmarks and we look at the spending and we start to make those priorities and we say this is the amount of money we've got.”
Rep. Aderholt (R-AL), who was responsible for having this earmark included in the funding bill, noted that Fort Payne is a small town in rural Alabama and that the Coal and Iron Building is included in the federal Save America's Treasures program. He also noted that the city of Fort Payne had spent $50,000 of its own money working on this project, and that the state of Alabama had committed another $135,000. Aderholt went on to say that the Coal and Iron Building “is on the national register, and it will be a valuable asset for increasing tourism and raising awareness of the cultural heritage of northern Alabama and southern Appalachia, as it will provide educational opportunities which augment certain other activities in the region.”
Rep. Dicks (D-WA), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed H.R. 2996, also opposed the amendment and said that the Appropriations Committee liked “the fact that the city and the state put up money. It's a real partnership. This is the way we do things today. . . .”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 114-317. One hundred and four Republicans and ten Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and forty-six Democrats and seventy-one Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the $150,000 earmarked for the Fort Payne Coal and Iron Building Rehabilitation project remained in H.R. 2996.