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January 29, 2015

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Recovery bill: museums in, casinos out

The mob in Las Vegas

Benjamin Launch slideshow »

WASHINGTON -- Museums dodged a bullet in the final version of the economic recovery bill being voted on in Congress -- meaning Las Vegas’s proposed Mob Museum could theoretically be in line for funds.

A Senate-passed amendment banned any funds from the $789 billion package from going to "casinos, zoos, golf courses, swimming pools, parks, museums, theaters, or highways beautification projects."

The Mob Museum had become a favorite target of anti-pork czars in Congress. The amendment won widespread support, passing 73-24 with Sen. John Ensign voting to ban the funds, and Sen. Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, voting to allow them.

But the American Association of Museums protested the exclusion, saying the country’s museums stimulate the economy, too.

“Museums are also being hard hit by this economy, laying off workers and cutting back on services,” said a posting from the group’s president on its Web site. “Not allowing museums to even compete for the funds in this bill is wrongheaded and completely disregards the fact that museums play a critical role in our communities as economic engines.”

The final language drops the reference to museums. Reid, who has spoken favorably of the potential tourist draw of the Mob Museum, did not push for the change, his office said.

Casinos, though, had no such luck. They are still banned from receiving any direct aid.

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