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House Panel Takes Second Vote On $100M For Obama Library

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – An Illinois House committee has voted a second time to approve $100 million in state funding to bring Barack Obama’s presidential library and museum to Illinois.

The Executive Committee’s 7-4 party-line vote comes two weeks after a controversial vote on the same measure. Republicans blasted the earlier vote as improper, as it was recorded as 9-0 using the roll call from a previous day, despite only five Democrats and no Republicans attending the meeting when the first vote was taken.

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) agreed to have the Executive Committee take a second vote on the plan.

Madigan has said the money would be well-spent to ensure the Obama presidential library and museum is built in Illinois.

“It’s very appropriate for the state of Illinois to be a participant in – number one – attempting to persuade the president to locate the library in Illinois, and then to participate in the cost of the construction,” Madigan said at Wednesday’s hearing. “We support numerous construction projects all over the state. There’s no need for me to list the names or the categories. We do it.”

Republican lawmakers have said the state should not be using public funds on such a project while facing serious budget problems.

“From the Republican side, we’re not opposed to the library, but I’ve consistently said we have wants and we have needs,” State Rep. Ed Sullivan Jr. (R-Mundelein) said. “You know, Chicago public school teachers just struck a few seasons ago over one of their priorities was air conditioning in schools. So when we look at building a library or putting together a better environment for kids to learn, it’s a want versus a need.”

Rep. Renee Kosel (R-New Lenox), said Obama is prolific enough at raising private funding he shouldn’t need help from the state if he wants the library in Illinois.

“I really hope we do get the library, but knowing this president’s wonderful, wonderful ability to raise money, I am sure that it can be done with private funds,” Kosel said.

Public funds have never been used for the construction of the other 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives, which oversees a nationwide network of presidential libraries beginning Herbert Hoover. However, Madigan has noted Illinois earmarked $100 million in public funds for the Abraham Lincoln Presidental Library and Museum in Springfield, which is not part of the National Archives network, which only includes 20th Century presidents.

Other presidential libraries outside the National Archives network have been established for George Washington, John Quincy Adams, William McKinley, Rutherford Hayes, Calvin Coolidge, and Woodrow Wilson.