WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives voted Thursday to try to restrict the effect of what has proven to be a highly controversial Supreme Court ruling that found that private property can be taken for private development if government authorities decided it would benefit the larger community.
The House passed the amendment to the Treasury/Transportation spending bill, 231-189.search
House Majority Leader Tom Delay, R-Texas, said he believes the Supreme Court issued a horrible decision.
"In the post-Kelo world, someone could knock on your door and tell you that the city council has voted to give your house to someone else because they have nicer plans for the property," DeLay said.
With growing bipartisan support, the House voted for a piece of legislation that could undo the impact of the Supreme Court decision. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., would cut off federal funding to any governmental entity that uses the expanded eminent domain (search) power to take land for economic development projects. Congress has used this approach before.
"I think that a case in point is the Hyde amendment that denied Medicaid ( search) funding on abortions," House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said. "Roe v. Wade was a constitutional decision of the United States Supreme Court, but they also held the Hyde amendment constitutional in that Congress does have the power of the purse and can decide what to fund and what not to fund."
The measure will be offered in the Senate by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
"We will be working together to accomplish our goal ... to reign back in this broad interpretation of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution in a way that protects all of us from the awesome power of government to take private property for private uses," Cornyn said.
Though Republicans have pushed the amendment, key Democrats like Reps. John Conyers of Michigan, Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Maxine Waters of California have signed on as co-sponsors. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., lined up against the measure.
"When you withhold funds from enforcing a decision of the Supreme Court, you are, in fact, nullifying a decision of the Supreme Court," Pelosi said.
That's exactly the point, those in Congress upset by the Supreme Court decision say. They say they believe very few state and local governments would be willing to risk losing federal funding in order to help a developer finance a private project.
Click in the video box above to watch a report by FOX News' Brian Wilson.