Spending bill pits rail proponents against those seeking flood repairs

Several members from New York in particular spoke against the transfer of funds: Reps.  Louise Slaughter (D), Jerrold Nadler (D), Paul Tonko (D), Carolyn Maloney (D) and Laura Richardson (D). Others speaking against it were Reps. John Olver (D-Mass.), David Price (D-N.C.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Al Green (D-Texas), Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), and Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.).

"In cutting funding for high-speed rail projects in this bill, the majority is threatening as many as 60,000 jobs," DeLauro said. "This is the majority's answer to last week's extremely disappointing jobs report that showed that we are mired in unacceptably high 9.2 percent unemployment after adding only 18,000 jobs in June."

DeLauro argued that the House should take money from oil companies or stop making payments to the Brazilian cotton industry if it needs to find funding.

On the other side were Republicans from Missouri and Louisiana, who argued that the $1 billion in funds in question were unobligated. They also argued that while Democrats might prefer not to pay for flood repairs along the Missouri, Mississippi and other rivers, Republicans are trying to keep government spending under control.

Reps. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Rodney Alexander (R-La.), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), Steve Scalise (R-La.), Steve Womack (R-Ark.), Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) and Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) spoke in favor of moving the funds for repairs cause by flood damage, which has threatened U.S. agricultural production.

"At the end of the day, I think that it's critical that people's lives and people's livelihoods be protected," Emerson said. "We must rebuild and we must restore these levies before the next big flood comes again, so we can protect our wonderful food source in the United States."

But Democrats responded by arguing that Republicans are taking away funds that would help their districts. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) argued that there are already "huge subsidy programs" for farmers, and that it is unfair to take away key funding for nonrural districts.

"I think what you're seeing here on our side is that we have members on this side of the aisle who believe that investments need to be made in our communities too," Ryan said.

But by the end of the nearly two-hour debate, Democrats did not propose an amendment to the bill, H.R. 2354, to address their complaint.

-- This story was updated at 1:56 p.m. and 2:16 p.m. to add details of the debate.

More in House

House GOP halts spending bills after Confederate flag fight

Read more »