WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House rejected a proposal Thursday to force the closure of Chicago-area shipping locks that could provide an opening to the Great Lakes for Asian carp, a potential threat to native fish species and the region's economy.
By a vote of 292-137, lawmakers defeated a budget bill amendment offered by Rep. Dave Camp (R., Mich.) that would have denied funding to the Army Corps of Engineers to open the two navigational structures. Opponents argued successfully that the locks were vital to commerce and closing them wouldn't necessarily prevent the unwanted carp from reaching Lake Michigan.
"It's a great relief that we were able to defeat this amendment," said Rep. Judy Biggert, an Illinois Republican. "Its passage would have been devastating to Chicago's economy and cost thousands of jobs in our region."
Michigan and four other states -- Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- are suing in federal court to close the locks and permanently sever the man-made link between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds.
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