This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Flake (R-AZ), which would have deleted $250,000 earmarked for the construction of a monument honoring Dominican immigrants in New York City from the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Transportation.
Rep. Flake had been a constant critic of “earmarks”, or legislatively mandated projects such as this one, that were inserted at the request of individual Members into funding bills. In support of his amendment, he made a statement that reflected the arguments he had been making on all the earmarks to which he had been objecting. He said: “I would hope that you would have people here to make decisions and say we can't fund every district in the country. So maybe we shouldn't have an account that allows Members to simply earmark wherever they will.” Flake also argued that “the problem with accounts like these economic development initiatives, is (they become) a catch-all term and it seems to act as an account that Members can simply earmark.”
He then repeated another argument he had been making against other earmarks, and said that “only the powerful Members in this body--either those who are on the Appropriations Committee, which makes up 14 percent of this body . . . or if you include chairmen and ranking minority members--powerful committees in leadership . . . 24 percent . . . takes the bulk--in some cases, in some bills up to 70 percent--of the dollar value of the earmarks.”
Rep. Rangel (D-NY), who was one of the Members responsible for having the earmark inserted in H.R. 3288, noted that private sector interests, many non-profit groups, and the local and state government got together to provide much of the funding for the monument. He also said: “(W)e should anchor a place of culture where kids can go after school, where we have sports, gymnasiums, poets, health care, and some place where the Dominicans can say that in a great country and in a great city and in a great community, they had a place anchored.”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 124-310. One hundred and fifteen Republicans and nine Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and fifth-one Democrats and fifty-nine Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the $250,000 earmarked for the construction of a monument honoring Dominican immigrants in New York City remained in the bill providing the 2010 fiscal year funding for the HUD and the Department of Transportation.