WASHINGTON — The Senate approved an amendment on Friday declaring that no money from the multibillion-dollar economic stimulus bill may be spent on recreation projects including museums, golf courses, aquariums or zoos.
The bill also would place a restriction on money for “any casino or gaming establishment.”
Nevada lawmakers have said the mention of gaming was more symbolic since casinos have not requested money from the bill. The restriction is limited to the spending portions of the stimulus, and resort companies will remain eligible for tax breaks and other benefits of the proposal, they said.
Senators voted 73-24 for the amendment proposed by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who often objects to earmarks and other spending he sees as questionable in Senate bills.
He argued that without his amendment, it was almost certain that stimulus funds would wind up supporting what he called “low priority” projects proposed by local interests.
Coburn said the proposed mob museum in Las Vegas was among his targets, along with a baseball stadium people mover in Miami, tree planting in Providence, R.I., and golf course improvements in Dayton, Ohio.
Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, spoke against the amendment, saying it could have unintended consequences.
“Should the military be denied the ability to build recreation facilities?” Inouye said. “This amendment is a solution in search of a problem.”
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., voted for the amendment. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., voted against it.
Ensign said the amendment would put tighter restrictions on spending.
“I wouldn’t want to subsidize a casino any more than I would want to subsidize the auto industry,” Ensign said before the vote.