This vote was on an amendment by John McCain, R-Ariz., that would prohibit funds from going to the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Brownfields Economic Development Initiative. The amendment was offered to the bill that funds transportation and housing programs in fiscal 2010.
McCain said President Obama himself has requested that brownfields economic development initiatives be terminated. Brownfields are typically former industrial sites that have been polluted with some form of hazardous waste; redevelopment initiatives clean up these old sites so that they can again be used for business purposes. He noted that the bill would give $1.3 million for brownfields redevelopment in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Ohio against Obama’s wishes.
“So now we are not only going against the President’s recommendations, we are going to go against the bill itself and give another $1.3 million in pork. All I say is you cannot make it up,” McCain said.
Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said he agrees that the brownfields redevelopment program is duplicative and should be cut. However, the funding contained in the bill is under the economic development initiative program, “which supports a wide range of programs to encourage economic redevelopment, including polluted, contaminated, blighted properties. In Waterbury, CT, home of the brass capital of our country, dating back to the early 19th century, most of the business was military related during the Civil War. There were no pollution requirements back then. Today those properties are virtually worthless because of the contamination. This is a city with a 13-percent unemployment rate. It is a hard-working blue-collar town where people put in hard labor every day. This is a chance for that community to get back on its feet. That is why it is under the economic development program,” Dodd said.
By a vote of 37-60, the amendment was rejected. All but six Republicans present voted for the amendment. All but three Democrats present voted against the amendment. The end result is that the measure went forward with $1.3 million in funding for brownfields redevelopment intact.