House Democrats blocked a measure that would have required new roads, bridges and schools funded by the $825 billion economic stimulus to be named after U.S. armed forces members killed in action.
Democrats on the House Rules Committee nixed the amendment Tuesday in a party-line 9-3 vote. The same vote also took down four other Republican amendments that would have funded job training for veterans, stopping all the measures from being considered Wednesday by the full House for inclusion in the stimulus.
“For whatever reason, it was not to their liking,” said Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Michigan Republican, sponsor of the amendment that would have honored fallen troops.
He said Republicans did not publicize the amendment because they did not want to appear to be “grandstanding” on the issue. But he said he was disappointed that it was so roundly rejected.
Democrats on the committee were not philosophically opposed to honoring fallen troops but concerned about the amendment’s vague language, which placed the naming requirement on all “new infrastructure” and could have resulted in the naming of sewer lines and water treatment plants, said an aide close to the committee and familiar with the internal debate.
The aide, who stressed the amendment was considered as part of a package of amendments, did not want to be quoted discussing House members’ deliberative process.
Several Democrats on the committee declined interview requests.
Nadeam Elshami, spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said the Rules Committee was the wrong place for a “naming bill.” He said the bill should have gone through the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The other four amendments, each sponsored by Republican Rep. Steve Buyer of Indiana, would have provided $10 million for job training for homeless female veterans and homeless veterans with children; provided $20 million veteran work force training; supplied $1 billion for small business loans to veterans; and increased payments to veterans undergoing vocational training.
Republicans on the committee said the rejection of the McCotter amendment underscored the House Democrat’s tight control of the stimulus legislation, despite President Obama’s promises of bipartisanship.
“If there is something that needs to be heard on the floor it’s that,” said committee member Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican. “They closed down the process.”
The committee considered 206 amendments - 104 Democratic, 95 Republican and 7 bipartisan - and approved 11 for a floor vote. Amendments that made it out of the committee included six sponsored by Democrats, four by Republicans and one with bipartisan sponsorship.