Friday, March 13, 2009

Change Via Amendment

This week, on top of the passage of the Omnibus Appropriations bill, I worked on two amendments to the Water Quality Investment Act that would help our community. The way that the Congress works makes it often difficult to pass stand alone bills unless one is on the committee of jurisdiction for an issue. In this case, while we have large water quality needs in the District, I am not on the committee that oversees the issue. Thus, my work has to come by way of amendment. You may remember that the CLEAR Act, requiring that Members of Congress lease only low emission vehicles, was passed as amendment as well.

I point this out to highlight the impact a small change in the law can make. This week, one of my proposed amendments passed and moves to the Senate as part of the bill and the other was ruled out of order. Now, I will begin the work of making sure the Senate retains the one that passed and think about another way to do the one that did not.

Earlier in the week I was able to announce nearly $37 million in earmarks, but the amendment that passed makes available hundreds of millions for Kansas City for their Combined Sewer problem — the largest public works project in the city’s history.

It is a bit frustrating, with so much focus on earmarks and the city’s local budget problems, this huge bit of news and stream of funding gets overlooked.

Amendments are not sexy and the process is complicated and hard to explain. But, with a little creativity and perseverance big change can happen with small adjustments.