U.S. Senate Bill Targeting Berkeley Earmarks Falters

State and National Bills Still On Table in Aftermath of City Council's Marines Votes

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Berkeley's City Council can breathe easy-for now.

A U.S. Senate bill that would have stripped the city of over $2 million in federal funding was defeated in a 41-57 vote Thursday. But similar bills are pending in the House of Representatives and the California State Assembly as the Marine recruiting center controversy continues.

The Senate bill, the Semper Fi Act of 2008, was sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., in retaliation for City Council resolutions that called the Marine Corps recruiters in Berkeley "uninvited and unwelcome intruders" and reserved a free parking space for protesters from anti-war group Code Pink.

California senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both Democrats, voted against the bill, as did presidential candidates and senators Barack Obama, D-Ill, and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

"I am extremely disappointed the United States Senate was not willing to stand up for our Marines when they do so much to stand up for us," DeMint said in a press release.

Feinstein and Boxer made speeches against the bill before the vote. Boxer said the bill would take funds from people and organizations which had nothing to do with the City Council-including UC Berkeley.

"My colleague and I are the first ones to say Berkeley made a huge mistake," Feinstein said in her speech.

In early February, Rep. John Campbell introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives, which has not been voted on yet.

Ricci Graham, a spokesperson for Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said that Lee was opposed to the bill.

"The congresswoman is always in support of the city of Berkeley maintaining the appropriations they've received," Graham said.

At the state level, Assemblymember Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, introduced legislation to withhold $3.3 million in transportation funds from Berkeley until the city reverses its decision to grant protesters a parking space. The bill will be heard in the Assembly Transportation Committee, but no date has been set yet, said Houston spokesperson Keith Ochwat.

Tags: MARINE RECRUITING CENTER, CITY COUNCIL, JIM DEMINT


Contact Kate Sturla at [email protected]



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