This was a vote on a motion to suspend the rules and pass legislation creating a new national park in Hartford, Connecticut. (Motions to suspend the rules limit time allowed for debate, and prohibit members from offering amendments. A two-thirds vote is required to approve the motion and pass a bill, rather than the usual majority.) This park, the “Coltsville National Historic Park,” would be established where the Colt Fire Arms Company was once located in Hartford. (The Colt Firearms Company, founded in 1836, was a major small arms manufacturer during the Civil War, as well as World Wars I and II.)
Rep. John Larson (D-CT), the author of the bill, urged members to support it: “Unlike a lot of people out West who have spacious land, we are limited. This would be Connecticut's only national park because of its historic significance and also because of its economic significance. Hartford is the fourth poorest city in the nation.”
Larson acknowledged that establishing a national park in a densely populated area such as Hartford would pose challenges, but contended they could be addressed: “…Any time you are in an urban area, you are going to enter into different property rights concerns than you would in an area which is less congested… The point is this: between all of the participants, including the Governor of the State, our economic development commission, the city of Hartford…and the more than 88 property owners [who owned property where the park was going to be established]…all are welcoming this with great pride and with the understanding of what this will mean to their city…”
Still, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) argued that the bill still raised concerns with respect to private property rights: “Regardless of the will of these property owners, this legislation would create federal boundaries around their property and raise serious questions about whether their property rights are being violated.” Hastings also argued the bill was fiscally irresponsible: “The American public is pleading for this Congress to stop out-of-control spending. While the concept and the intent behind this proposal may have merit, and I think it does have merit, we need to also acknowledge that the taxpayers will be on the hook for millions of dollars in rehabilitation costs just to prepare this site for visitors…”
214 Democrats and one Republican voted “yea.” 168 Republicans and 6 Democrats voted “nay.” While a majority of members voted in favor of the bill, a two-thirds majority vote is required for passage under suspension of the rules. Since this bill did not receive a two-thirds majority vote, the measure failed. As a result, the House rejected legislation establishing a new national park in Hartford, Connecticut. However, Democratic leaders remained free to bring the bill up again under a different procedure requiring only a simple majority vote for passage.