Lawmakers bar funding projects that seize land


WASHINGTON - Angry over a recent Supreme Court decision, the House of Representatives began a legislative drive yesterday to roll back the power of local governments to seize homes and other private property for economic development projects.

By a vote of 231-189, the House approved an amendment forbidding the Bush administration from spending money on projects that seize private property for business development.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, was among those who voted against the amendment, saying she opposes withholding federal dollars "for the enforcement of any decision of the Supreme Court, no matter how opposed I am to that decision."

The vote was loosely along party lines: 192 Republicans and 39 Democrats voted to approve; 157 Democrats, 31 Republicans and one independent were opposed.

In a ruling that has touched a public nerve, the high court in a 5-4 decision last week upheld the power of cities to condemn private property for redevelopment projects.

Rep. Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican, said the court had failed to "defend the liberties and freedoms our forefathers so desperately envisioned when they established our great nation."

While the federal government does not initiate such projects, its money may play a crucial role in some of them, he said.

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