This was a vote on the Campbell (R-CA) Amendment to H.R. 2996, the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The amendment would have eliminated $150,000 in funds from the bill that had been “earmarked” for the Tarrytown Music Hall restoration project in Tarrytown, New York. An earmark is a project that benefits only a specific constituency or geographic area, which is inserted into a spending bill by an individual Member. A number of Republicans had been attempting to remove earmarks from a series of spending bills that Congress had been considering. This was one of those efforts.
Rep. Campbell, in his statement on behalf of his amendment, noted that major artists recently performed at the Tarrytown Music Hall with tickets costing up to $80. He asked whether taxpayers should fund the restoration of such a facility and why it cannot sustain itself with private donations. He also suggested that, if there is not sufficient interest to restore this hall with private money, why “we should force taxpayers to pay for it.” He also noted that “in the past year the theater itself donated over $80,000 worth of rehearsal and performance space and recently purchased land costing $2 million . . . .”
Campbell asked, rhetorically, “given the $2 trillion deficit we have, given that the national debt will double in 5 years and triple in 10, given the proposals on the majority side of the aisle that are being discussed to raise taxes all over the place, is this a place that we should be spending more of the taxpayers' money? Isn't this the sort of charitable function that people should raise money on their own?”
Rep. Lowey (D-NY), who was responsible for having this earmark included in this spending bill, said she believed “that it's our responsibility, as elected officials, to fight for what is best in our district in accordance with the rules guiding Federal programs. During these difficult economic times, it is our responsibility to assist industries that make substantial contributions to our economy to accelerate long-term recovery and growth nationally. Tarrytown Music Hall does generate more than $1 million in economic activity in my district.” She added that the local groups that support the facility “do not expect the federal government to shoulder the full burden of their projects. They're required to provide a dollar-for-dollar match . . . .” Loewy also noted that the music hall’s “cultural and educational programs serve more than 30,000 children each year.”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 122-301. One hundred and twelve Republicans and ten Democrats vote “aye”. Two hundred and forty-four Democrats and fifty-seven Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the $150,000 earmarked for the Tarrytown Music Hall restoration project remained in H.R.2996.