WASHINGTON – Ronald Reagan's childhood home would become a federal historic site under a bill passed by the House on Tuesday.
The Dixon, Ill., house where the former president lived in the early 1920s is owned by the private Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home Foundation. The bill, which passed by voice vote, authorizes the Interior Department to acquire the site from the foundation, which would continue managing and operating it.
Supporters say the legislation will protect the legacy of America's 40th president.
"Establishing the boyhood home as a national historic site will ensure long-term preservation ... and its eligibility for funding from the National Park Service," said Rep. George Radanovich, R-Calif.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., sponsor of the bill, has fought attempts by lawmakers, the Bush administration and the National Park Service to delay action on the legislation until an Interior Department study is completed. In October, a House committee rejected an amendment that would have required the study.
Rep. Joel Hefley, sponsor of the failed amendment, criticized the bill for designating the site "as a national park unit without study by the park service or indeed any real idea of what the park service's role in this will be or how they will manage it."
"Make no mistake, this bill is before you in this form today only because the Speaker wants it," Hefley, R-Colo., said from the House floor.
Reagan lived in the home, which is in Hastert's district, for three years between the ages of 9 and 12.