Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Walberg's Affirmative Action Amendment Killed In Senate

I'm back from my week off, but I'm off to a slow start. There's a lot of e-mail I've got to sort through... -- Fitzy

A while back, I mentioned Congressman Tim Walberg's newest strategy for furthering his agenda: introducing (and, in one case, passing) confusing amendments that would prevent the federal government from enacting affirmative action policies.

His one success on this front was on HR 3074, a bill which would fund the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As I wrote before, his amendment only passed because, simply put, House Democrats couldn't figure out what it would actually do. As Congressman John Olver said:
Either this is not a serious amendment or it is an exceedingly serious amendment. This amendment is either totally unnecessary or it has a really nefarious purpose... I don't know whether this is the sort of thing that the gentleman was trying to get at, but I think that this has some entirely unknown effects.
So, it passed with little opposition because Walberg had successfully confused the House of Representatives.

It turns out that Walberg's amendment's language would have eliminated funding for the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. That program, as far as I can tell, has successfully led to businesses owned by historically disadvantaged groups (minorities and women) getting an appropriate share of federal contracts.

When the actual result of Walberg's amendment was known, the Senate moved to kill it:
This week the US Senate averted an attempt to eliminate funding for the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program for transportation construction, an affirmative action program for women and minorities. A last minute amendment to the Department of Transportation/HUD appropriations bill, introduced by Rep Tim Walberg (R-MI), wiping out funding for the DBE program passed the House without even a voice vote.

In a procedural move, the Democratic leadership prevented such an amendment from coming to the Senate floor. A large coalition of women’s rights and civil rights organizations, worked to alert senators of the serious impact of cutting the DBE funding which the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights described as "one of the federal government's most successful small business development programs, and has helped to expand competition and create opportunities for tens of thousands of new businesses in the construction market."

Similar funding cuts in California resulting from the passage of Proposition 209 resulted in more than 50 percent reduction in transportation construction contracts to women and minority-owned businesses over a ten year period according to the Discrimination Research Center.
So. Bummer for Tim Walberg, I guess. One of his few legislative accomplishments got wiped away by a procedural move. Too bad for him that the Senate wasn't as confused by his last-minute stunt as the House of Representatives.

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Too bad for us this type of innefective grandstanding is being perpetuated by OUR Congressman.

He is only playing to the media and his base and using wedge-issue tactics to score points with his super-conservative base.
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