Advocacy Alert: Sept. 16, 2009

Coburn Anti-Museum Amendment Defeated!

Congratulations, museum advocates! Thanks to your efforts, the Coburn/McCain amendment(S. Amdt. 2372)—which would have prohibited ANY funding from the Transportation Appropriations bill (H.R. 3288) from going to ANY museum—was defeated on the Senate floor today. The amendment, which states,“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for a museum,” was rejected by a vote of 41–57!

An additional amendment offered by Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.)—(S. Amdt. 2371) which would have waived a requirement that states set aside 10% of their overall funding for Transportation Enhancements (including historic preservation and museums, among other programs)—was also defeated by a vote of 39–59. Sen. Coburn had initially offered another amendment (S. Amdt. 2370) that would have prohibited funding from going to transportation museums and other TE projects, but later withdrew it.

Since 1992, the Transportation Enhancement Program has provided at least $110.6 million to support museums.

During Senate floor debate yesterday and today, Senator Coburn repeatedly referred to museums as “low-priority” entities that did not deserve federal transportation funds in these difficult economic times.

In response, Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) defended Transportation Enhancement (TE) projects and highlighted their value to communities.

Sen. Carper highlighted the impact of TE funds on Wilmington, Del., where they are being used to revitalize the waterfront district, including a science and trail center that will engage and educate thousands.

Sen. Boxer noted that TE programs and projects, “put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work” and “improve the quality of life for millions of Americans.”

“This is a great victory for the museum field and I want to thank each and every advocate who contacted their Senators to urge a No vote on these amendments,” said AAM President Ford W. Bell. “To have Senators Barbara Boxer and Tom Carper speak on the Senate floor about the many ways in which museums create jobs, revitalize communities, and preserve our national heritage is very heartening.  But the fact that these amendments continue to come up and are supported by more than a third of the Senate reflects that we need to strengthen our field-wide advocacy efforts.”

Please take a moment to THANK the U.S. Senators who voted NO on these harmful amendments. 

You can reach any of them by calling the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121:

Akaka (D-Hawaii)
Alexander (R-Tenn.)
Baucus (D-Mont.)
Begich (D-Alaska)
Bennet (D-Colo.)
Bennett (R-Utah)
Bingaman (D-N.M.)
Bond (R-Mont.)
Boxer (D-Calif.)
Brown (D-Ohio)
Burris (D-Ill.)
Cantwell (D-Wash.)
Cardin (D-Md.)
Carper (D-Del.)
Casey (D-Pa.)
Cochran (R-Miss.)
Dodd (D-Conn.)
Dorgan (D-N.Dak.)
Durbin (D-Ill.)
Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Franken (D-Minn.)
Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Hagan (D-N.C.)
Harkin (D-Iowa)
Inouye (D-Hawaii)
Johnson (D-S.Dak.)
Kaufman (D-Del.)
Kerry (D-Mass.)
Landrieu (D-La.)
Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
Leahy (D-Vt.)
Levin (D-Mich.)
Lieberman (ID-Conn.)
Lincoln (D-Ark.)
Menendez (D-N.J.)
Merkley (D-Oreg.)
Mikulski (D-Md.)
Murray (D-Wash.)
Nelson (D-Fla.)
Nelson (D-Nebr.)
Pryor (D-Ark.)
Reed (D-R.I.)
Reid (D-Nev.)
Rockefeller (D-W.V.)
Sanders (I-Vt.)
Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Shaheen (D-N.H.)
Shelby (R-Ala.)
Specter (D-Pa.)
Stabenow (D-Mich.)
Tester (D-Mont.)
Udall (D-N.Mex.)
Warner (D-Va.)
Webb (D-Va.)
Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
Wicker (R-Miss.)
Wyden (D-Oreg.)

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Sen. Coburn has targeted funding for museums before. Earlier this year Sen. Coburn attempted to prohibit museums from competing for or receiving any funds from H.R. 1, the economic stimulus bill. While the prohibition on museums was not included in the final version of the bill, Sen. Coburn’s amendment to prohibit museums was approved on the Senate floor by a 73-24 vote. In the end, the word “museum” was dropped from the final prohibition, but zoos and aquariums remained barred from competing for economic stimulus funding.