This vote was on an amendment by David Vitter, R-La., that would have prohibited funds from being given to people who live in federally-subsidized housing in New Orleans, if they are in a street gang or have been convicted of manufacturing or distributing drugs, or of possession of drugs with intent to distribute.
Vitter said his amendment is intended to prohibit any housing assistance from benefitting drug dealers or members of violent gangs. He said this is particularly important to the stability of New Orleans as it tries to rebuild its poorer areas.
“After Hurricane Katrina, there was an enormous rebuilding effort in New Orleans that continues. Part of that effort involves public housing in New Orleans. Quite frankly, that system has been plagued for many years with tremendous problems, the biggest of which is crime in those projects. There has been an ongoing effort to rid those projects of violent crime. That effort continues and certainly that battle has not yet been won because, unfortunately, New Orleans continues to be a capital in the country for violent crime, with very high violent crime levels,” Vitter said. “As we are rebuilding these projects using a fundamentally different model—a mixed-income model, less density—certainly one of the changes we need to make is to ensure that drug dealers and members of violent gangs do not set up shop once again in those public housing projects and do not get other taxpayer assistance.”
No one spoke against the amendment.
By a vote of 34-62, the amendment was rejected. All but six Republicans present voted for the amendment. Every Democrat present voted against the amendment. The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have prohibited funds from being used to subsidize New Orleans public housing for convicted drug dealers or people who are in street gangs.