H.R. 2996 provided funding for the 2010 fiscal year for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. This was a vote on an amendment to the bill offered by Rep. Heller (R-NV). The amendment would have prohibited any funds in the bill from being used to build a Carson Interagency Fire Facility on 15 acres of federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management located in a residential neighborhood of nearly 300 homes in Carson City, Nevada.
The Bureau of Land Management, whose funding was in H.R. 2996, had tentatively selected the site for the facility and was in the preliminary “comment phase” of the process of making its final decision. Local residents in the area were opposed to the location, and the Carson City Board of Supervisors had passed a resolution voicing its opposition to the proposed location.
Rep. Heller, who represents Carson City, began his statement about the amendment by noting that he and his constituents “support the construction of the interagency fire center and believe the facility will help with combating catastrophic wildfires.” He also noted that his amendment would only prohibit funds from being used to construct the facility at one particular site. Heller referenced the opposition of the local community to the tentatively selected site, and said the Bureau of Land Management “has under consideration multiple sites for this particular facility, all of which are better suited than the chosen location.”
Heller also argued that “at times we think here in Washington we know what is better for the local communities . . . I think there should be (another) voice in this process and the voice should come from the people; it should come from the local government and not be pushed down to them through Washington.” Rep. Simpson (R-ID), echoed Heller’s remarks and said “local people ought to have some say in these Federal agencies' decisions of where they are going to locate facilities . . . saying this area, this location that you are looking at is inappropriate, as the Board of County Commissioners apparently has said, seems to me to be entirely appropriate, and Congress ought to look at their wishes.”
Rep. Dicks, who was leading the support for the funding bill, opposed the amendment. He said he did “understand that citizens and the Carson City Board of Supervisors are concerned about the Interior Department plan to build an urgently needed new wildfire facility, but it is clearly premature to cut off funding for this proposal. The environmental analysis is still out for public review. We should not halt this important project before the analysis and the public input can be analyzed and considered. It is really important for the Federal agencies to move ahead with an interagency center so they can be more efficient and effective firefighters.” Dicks also pledged to work with Heller “to be sure that his constituents' concerns are heard and fully considered.”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 202-225. One hundred and seventy-one Republicans and thirty-one Democrats vote “aye”. Two hundred and twenty-four Democrats and one Republican voted “nay”. As a result, no prohibition was added to the Interior Department funding bill that would prevent the building of the Carson City fire facility.