This vote was on an amendment by David Vitter, R-La., that would delete $35 billion from the economic stimulus bill by eliminating funding for programs that were not authorized by other legislation. The amendment was offered to a massive economic stimulus bill intended to spur job creation and economic growth.
Vitter said his amendment targets what he considers wasteful spending, such as funds in the economic stimulus bill for gambling institutions, aquariums, zoos, golf courses, swimming pools or a Mafia museum. The amendment also would bar the application of a labor law known as Davis-Bacon to any construction projects receiving economic stimulus funds. Davis-Bacon requires federal contractors to be paid the “prevailing wage,” which means that the federal government must pay contract workers on construction projects on the same wage scale as other workers in a geographical area. Republicans, who dislike the fact that this often means paying contract workers the same as local union workers, frequently take aim at watering down or erasing this law.
Vitter said his amendment is an attempt to cut out spending that would not unambiguously create jobs quickly or otherwise stimulate the flagging economy.
“Fundamentally, it does two things. First, it cuts out $35 billion of spending, which is not stimulative, which is not focused on quick job creation and economic stimulus. It takes that out of the bill. Secondly, it takes out the Davis-Bacon language, which is not part of any reasonable stimulus program and which will, in fact, cost the Government more money by significantly increasing labor costs on many projects. That has been estimated to cost about $17 billion,” Vitter said.
No one spoke against the amendment.
By a vote of 32-65, the amendment was rejected. Of Republicans present, 32 voted for the amendment and eight voted against it. Every Democrat voted against the amendment. The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have prohibited Davis-Bacon from applying to federal economic stimulus contracts, and would also have trimmed $35 billion in spending from the economic stimulus bill.