What: All Issues : Education, Humanities, & the Arts : Funding for National Endowments of the Arts and/or Humanities : H.R. 2691. Fiscal 2004 Interior Appropriations/Vote on Rules of Debate for a Conference Report Which Would Set Spending Priorities for the Department of the Interior and Related Programs.
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H.R. 2691. Fiscal 2004 Interior Appropriations/Vote on Rules of Debate for a Conference Report Which Would Set Spending Priorities for the Department of the Interior and Related Programs.
house Roll Call 575     Oct 29, 2003
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

Before legislation can be considered on the House floor, a rule governing debate on the measure must be adopted. Rules are drafted by the House Rules Committee, in effect an arm of the majority party leadership. The subject of this vote was a rule that would provide for consideration of the conference report on the bill that would appropriate $19.7 billion for the Department of the Interior and related programs and $400 million in emergency fire-fighting funds (if legislation passes the House and Senate in difference forms, a conference committee is convened to reconcile differences between the two versions; a conference report is the product of conference committee negotiations). Progressives voted against the rule based on their several objections to the conference report itself. The first objection involved the inclusion of an administration-favored rule which would expand road building, logging, and mining operations in federal forestland, specifically (but not limited to) Alaska's Chugach and Tongass national forests. In the view of Progressives, expanding commercial operations in federal forestland would jeopardize the natural beauty of pristine wilderness areas. The second objection involved funding cuts for the National Endowments of the Arts (NEA) and Humanities (NEH). In the view of Progressives, federal funding for the arts and humanities is socially and economically beneficial. According to Representative Slaughter (D-NY), the $232 million invested by the federal government in the NEA and NEH in 2003 had an economic impact of $132 billion and produced billions of tax revenues on the federal, state, and local levels of government. Additionally, continued Slaughter, every dollar the NEA invests in local theater groups, orchestras, or exhibitions generates seven dollars for NEA by attracting other grants, private donations, and ticket sales. The third objection dealt with provisions in the conference report which failed to resolve a dispute between Native Americans and the Interior Department. Since 1885, the Interior Department has managed an account owned by Native Americans which contained money paid to tribes by the federal government for the commercial use of Native American land. According to Progressives, this account had been terribly mismanaged by Interior and legislative action was needed to compensate Native Americans for the federal government's mishandling of the account. Conservatives supported the rules of debate based on what they characterized as the virtues of the legislation such as funding increases for the National Park Service, the National Wildlife Refuges, the Indian Health Service, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. On a vote of 289-136, the rules of debate for the Interior Department conference report were adopted and the legislation was allowed to proceed to consideration on the House floor.

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