This vote was on an amendment by John Campbell, R-Calif., that would prohibit funds from going to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York. The amendment was offered to the bill that funds the Labor, Health and Education departments in fiscal 2008.
Campbell said the underlying bill would provide $2 billion for the creation of this new center in honor of New York Congressman Charlie Rangel.
"There are a few things in it I thought were troubling, because amongst the things that it says this center will have are, quote, “a well-furnished office for Congressman Rangel.” Second, “the Rangel Library to house its Rangel archives.” And it goes on to say, quote, “The Rangel archivist librarian will organize, index and preserve for posterity all documents, photographs and memorabilia relating to Congressman Rangel’s career," Campbell said.
He said he objects to it on the grounds that rules of the House of Representatives prohibit lawmakers from providing money to designate "a public work in honor of an individual" currently serving in Congress.
"Now, it’s my understanding from the Parliamentarian that this amendment does not violate the letter of that rule. I would argue, and argue to my friends in the majority, that it would violate the spirit. I really do not think this is a road we want to go down, where we, as Members, have the ability to create and name things after ourselves using public funds while we are in office," Campbell said.
Rangel himself came to the microphone to defend the earmark. He said the City University came to him and expressed an interest in the expansion and asked if he would help raise money for it.
"They already raised $25 million, in order to do this. And all the office things that you’re talking about, when you talk about archives, it means after I leave here. And I do hope that there would be an office there, as we bring people in to encourage people to get an education, to go into public service. I cannot think of anything that I am more proud of. I wish we had more of this type of thing," Rangel said. "And so it just seems to me, as you have seen fit to apply for an earmark here, that you understand what it is. I’ve been in office for 38 years, I don’t need any accolades. My community has given me that."
The amendment was rejected by a vote of 108-316. All but one Democrat present voted against the amendment (Jim Cooper of Tennessee). Of Republicans present, 107 voted for the amendment and 89 voted against it. The end result is that the measure went forward with funding for the Charles Rangel center intact.