Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
The CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Arizona will be postponed.
AMENDMENT NO. 86 OFFERED BY MR.
Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would remove $500,000 funding for the Innovative Science Learning Center at ScienceSouth in Florence, South Carolina, and reduce the overall cost of the bill by a commensurate amount.
According to its Web site, ScienceSouth is a nonprofit institution established in 2000 by educators and business leaders and seeks to advance scientific understanding and increase the competitiveness of future generations.
ScienceSouth offers programming for schools and families, as well as summer camp sessions, and currently offers hands-on science workshops at its newly opened ScienceSouth pavilion.
Additionally, ScienceSouth is planning to open a new permanent facility. It's unclear whether the Innovative Science Learning Center is connected to this. There's no mention of it in the ScienceSouth Web site, and my staff was unable to find any information on the center online. This project is likely connected to the growth of this institution. Perhaps we'll have clarification here.
Mr. Chairman, I agree with the sponsor of the project that ScienceSouth appears to offer a valuable service to the community. I appreciate efforts to make learning fun for families. I applaud ScienceSouth's decision to expand.
However, I have to question how essential it is that ScienceSouth receive Federal funding. According to the Web site, ScienceSouth counts DeLoitte and Touche, I guess, Honda, Wachovia, AT&T, Bank of America and many other as its sponsors. It's also received funding from the State legislature, and holds an annual gala to raise funds from private donors. Yet year after year, we see earmarks such as these approved by the House; and year after year, some of us try to come to the floor of this House
and ask why. Why do we continue to fund these projects?
We're often told that we're trying to wean them off Federal funding. Yet, that weaning never seems to be accomplished.
This year I'd also like to draw attention to the fact that earmarks like this exist because we have a pretty powerful spoils system. It favors powerful Members of Congress over just about everyone else.
With more than 1,000 earmarks in this bill, a full review and breakdown of earmarks was in tall order. However, you look at just a glance at one earmarked account in this bill, the COPS Law Enforcement and Technology account reveals that Members of the House leadership, appropriators, committee chairmen and ranking members are taking home more than 45 percent of the earmarked dollars in that account.
I wish I could say this was the exception to the rule. Unfortunately, it's not.
When you look at last year's Defense spending bill, for example, the same powerful Members took home 54 percent of the total earmarks contained in [Page: H6965]
the bill. I'd remind my colleagues that this subset of Members comprises only 25 percent of this body.
Mr. Chairman, I often hear that Members know their districts better than those faceless bureaucrats. I would think it would be a tough case to make that only Members of the Appropriations Committee, or only Members who are in leadership positions on both sides of the aisle, they just happen to know their districts a lot better than anybody else, than the rank-and-file Members. Else, why should they get nearly half of the earmarks when they comprise less than a quarter of the body?
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. CLYBURN. Mr. Chairman, I thank Chairman Mollohan for yielding me the time.
Ranking Member Wolf, Mr. Flake, Members of the committee, subcommittee and staff, I very seldom come to this floor to make statements. But I do tonight because I consider it to be very, very critical to the education of our young people for us to continue and to expand the partnerships that all of us are trying to develop with the business community in trying to educate our children, most especially, those children who live in disadvantaged or what we call at-risk conditions.
ScienceSouth is a hands-on, minds-on program that many of us have worked a long time to develop.
And I want the gentleman to know that we aren't talking about my district here. We are talking about the I-95 corridor that has been dubbed ``The Corridor of Shame,'' that runs for 200 miles through South Carolina.
One of the partners, as he may have mentioned in his statement, is the city of Dillon. Dillon is not in my district. It is a city made famous by its School District No. 2, on the evening that the President of the United States addressed a joint session here in this room, and he identified a young lady sitting next to his wife, Ty'Sheoma Bethea, and talked about the letter she wrote to him. Ty'Sheoma Bethea is one of the students benefiting from this program, and Dillon is not in my district.
This is not about seeking largesse for the district I represent. This is about educating the children of this great Nation and of my home State.
This program is very, very important, and it has been around for 9 years, and I would like the gentleman to know that this is not anything that we are trying to wean off of. This is something that I wish we had more money to spend on. We cannot put this kind of condition on the education of our children.
Now, I don't understand why it is that we can understand the necessity for repeat expenditures to educate people and not understand why partnerships ought to exist, because students are being born every day. This program is not being maintained for the same students. It is being maintained for students who are being born every day and who are reaching a level every day of benefiting from this program.
So Ty'Sheoma Bethea will go on to college or will go on to university, and I am going to help ensure that she does. There will be others behind her to benefit from this program. So this is not repetition on the same students. This is the repetition of a program that has proven to be very, very beneficial.
In closing, might I say that this program is so important to the business community in South Carolina until Richard Powell recently ended his career at ESAB, which is a global welding and cutting firm, where he held positions of senior vice president of strategic planning, of senior vice president of information technology, vice president of manufacturing, and controller, and he took over the directorship of this program.
This is one of the reasons we exist--to make the quality of life better for those young people, especially those who live along the I-95 corridor that so many of us like to talk of as the ``corridor of shame.'' What we're trying to do with this program is to turn that corridor into an oasis of opportunity for those children.
Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, there are a lot of commendable education programs, and this is certainly one that is fulfilling its objective.
We are facing a $2 trillion deficit this year alone, and I think it behooves us as Members of Congress to make some choices at some time. I think all of us would love to have money for every worthy project that's out there, but here is a project that is receiving a lot of money from the private sector. I listed off some of the sponsors. They've been able to get large grants from corporations, and that speaks well for this program. Yet it has been around for 9 years, and since 2002, it has received
$1.6 million in earmarks from this body.
At what point do we say, ``Enough is enough''? At what point do we say, ``Yes, it is time to wean this program off of Federal dollars''? If not now, when? When we hit a $3 trillion deficit? At what point do we say, ``We're spending too much''? We all know that we have to borrow any money that we spend on any of these programs because we're running a $2 trillion deficit. I would simply submit that we have got to make some cuts somewhere, and we don't seem to be willing to do it anywhere. So, with
that, I would urge support of the amendment.
I yield back the balance of my time.
The CHAIR. The gentleman from West Virginia has 15 seconds.