House bans funding to renovate White House bowling alley

Thinkstock

The House on Wednesday adopted a proposal to prohibit funding to renovate the White House bowling alley.

Rep. Pat Meehan's (R-Pa.) amendment to the fiscal 2015 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill, which includes funding for the General Services Administration, passed by voice vote. Democrats had initially demanded a roll call vote on the amendment but later withdrew their request.

ADVERTISEMENT
Meehan argued that funding for the bowling alley in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building constituted a "want," not a "need." He used ice cream as an analogy during House floor debate.

"A good example is calcium. You know, calcium is necessary for survival, but ice cream, on the other hand, is a want. Everyone needs calcium, but plenty of people would do just fine without ice cream," Meehan said.

Meehan said his amendment would similarly establish priorities.

"With our nation $17 trillion in debt, upgrading the president's private bowling alley shouldn't be a priority," Meehan said. "A spiffy new bowling alley may suit the wants for commander in chief, but I think I speak for the taxpayers of the seventh congressional district when I assert that it is certainly not a need."

But Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Financial Services subcommittee, said Meehan's amendment was "silly." He noted that the GSA had already canceled the project, as the federal contractor posting was pulled on July 9. It is unclear what the cost would have been for the renovation for the bowling alley, which has been in use since 1955.

"I don't think the American public, with all due respect to the people in the gentleman's district, really spend a lot of time concerned about the fact that all presidents — and I mean all presidents — are not allowed just to pick up and go to a local place to have a beer or bowl a game of bowling or whatever," Serrano said.

Serrano joked that funding to repair the White House plumbing system would be the next GOP target.

"So by tonight, we may see even the plumbing at the White House attacked, as we did a couple of years ago," Serrano said. "We have a White House that needs fixing, and this Congress wastes time on these kinds of issues."

Meehan charged that Congress should judiciously review how it allocates federal spending. 

"I suspect it is only silly if you are the people who don't care about the important expenditures of the taxpayers of the United States of America," Meehan said. "This isn't some trivial issue. This is a question of priorities at a time where every family is struggling."