What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Adequate Government Funding for a Broad Range of Human Needs : (H.R. 3170) On the Flake of Arizona amendment, which would have eliminated $200,000 earmarked for the Greenstone Group project, a small business incubator in Minnesota. (2009 house Roll Call 562)
 Who: All Members : New York, District 2 : King, Pete
(H.R. 3170) On the Flake of Arizona amendment, which would have eliminated $200,000 earmarked for the Greenstone Group project, a small business incubator in Minnesota.
house Roll Call 562     Jul 16, 2009
Member's Vote
or not)
Progressive Position
Progressive Result
(win or loss)

This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Flake (R-AZ) to H.R. 3081, the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Small Business Administration, the federal courts and many other federal government operations. The amendment would have eliminated a $200,000 earmark in H.R. 3081 for the Greenstone Group project of the Northeast Entrepreneur Fund, a small business incubator located in Virginia, Minnesota. An earmark is a project that benefits only a specific constituency or geographic area, and which is inserted into a spending bill by an individual Member. A number of Republicans, of whom Rep. Flake was the most active, had been consistent critics of earmarks, and had been offering a series of amendments to remove them from spending bills.

Rep. Flake argued in his statement in support of the amendment that this project “is something that private-sector organizations, chambers of commerce, trade associations, and other businesses offer and do all over this country--hundreds in every State. Yet here we are singling one out and are saying this one is worthy of a Federal earmark, and we're going to give $200,000 to it. That's not right. We can't continue to spend money this way.  Every dime that we are spending over and above what we spent last year, and a lot of what we spent last year, is borrowed. When will we decide enough is enough and that we can't continue to do business as usual and fund earmarks in this fashion?”

Rep. Oberstar (D-MN), who was responsible for having the earmark inserted in the spending bill, argued that the amendment would “be muzzling job-creating opportunities in northeastern Minnesota, an area in my district where unemployment rates are 12.9 percent, 15 percent and 16 percent in one community after another.” Oberstar claimed that The Entrepreneur Fund “has created 1,000 businesses (and) 2,500 jobs (for) people who are . . . paying Federal, State and local taxes that would not otherwise be paid. The return to the federal government on this investment is significant and real and tangible. The Entrepreneur Fund has provided $7 million in loans to 350 businesses. Over 9,000 individuals have been helped by the fund . . . . “

Oberstar then referred to Rep. Flake’s comment that other entities should be providing this funding and said: “(T)hey're not doing it all by themselves . . . the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Blandin Foundation, Minnesota Power Company, and the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation all are partners and participants with the Northeast Entrepreneur Fund and with the Greenstone Group. There is a public-private partnership that has been very successful and that has the support of the private sector.” Oberstar added that “the Entrepreneur Fund and the Greenstone Group . . . provide, in participation with the private sector, professional business coaching. People with real world business experience have helped these beginning entrepreneurs do the right thing--develop good business plans, get on their feet, and operate successful businesses . . . This is a good investment of Federal dollars.”

Rep. Flake responded that “rather than continuing to fund entities that have received earmarks year after year and that have no real prospect of not being reliant on federal government funding in the future, we've got to say enough is enough.” Rep Oberstar answered: “(W)hen (Rep Flake) waves his magic wand over the northeastern part of my district and restores economic stability and growth and job creation, then we won't need this helping hand.”

The amendment was defeated by a vote of 93-337. Eighty-nine Republicans and four Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and fifty-two Democrats and eighty-five Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the earmark for the Greenstone Group project of the Northeast Minnesota Entrepreneur Fund remained in H.R. 3170. 

Issue Areas:
Key: Y=Yea, N=Nay, W=Win, L=Loss