What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Adequate Government Funding for a Broad Range of Human Needs : HR 1. (Economic stimulus) Coburn of Oklahoma amendment that would prohibit funds from being used for a laundry list of projects Coburn considers wasteful spending/On agreeing to the amendment
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HR 1. (Economic stimulus) Coburn of Oklahoma amendment that would prohibit funds from being used for a laundry list of projects Coburn considers wasteful spending/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 51     Feb 06, 2009
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

This vote was on an amendment by Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that would prohibit economic stimulus funding from being put towards an array of uses, including gambling establishments, aquariums, swimming pools, zoos, golf courses, stadiums, community parks, museums, theaters, art centers and highway beautification projects.  All these items are the sort of things that might appear in more traditional pieces of legislation as a member-funded pet project (known as "earmarks"), which Coburn frequently attempts to cut.  The amendment was offered to a bill that is intended to help stimulate the flagging U.S. economy with a $900 billion cash infusion.

Coburn said his amendment is not necessarily "against" the things it prohibits, but rather is "about saying to the American people we are going to prioritize the spending on this legislation.”

"What this amendment does is prohibit money to go to low-priority, low-infrastructure things. This amendment is designed to prohibit money going into these areas so we will have money next year and the year after that, or maybe redirect money within the bill to actually do something we are going to have to spend money on anyhow, rather than do something that is optional and low priority," Coburn said.

Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said Coburn's goal is understandable but that there could be unintended consequences as a result of adopting the amendment.

"Members might argue you could include the amendment as an additional safeguard. Well, consider just this one example. Among other things, the amendment would prohibit the construction of swimming pools no exceptions. It should be noted that we do not direct the construction of any particular swimming pool that would be an earmark. However, this bill contains $3.4 billion for needed construction of new and infrastructure renovation and repairs at existing VA hospitals. Under the terms of this provision the VA would not be able to spend any of the infrastructure funding provided to the Department on construction or renovation of therapeutic swimming pools at spinal cord injury centers, trauma centers, or other VA medical centers," Inouye said.

By a vote of 73-24, the amendment was adopted.  Every Republican present voted for the amendment.  The Democratic caucus was more split, with 33 Democrats present voting for the amendment and 22 voting against it (including many of the most progressive members).

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