A bill that would have established a new national park honoring the scientific achievements of the Manhattan Project—the research and development program that gave the world the nuclear bomb—failed in the House of Representatives late last week.
H.R. 5987, the Manhattan Project National Historic Park Act, would have established a multisite national park in three places where the development of the atomic bomb unfolded: Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Los Alamos, N.M.; and Hanford, Wash. The act’s sponsor, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), had attracted the support of a majority of representatives across partisan lines before the bill came up for a vote.
A procedural irregularity allowed the park’s opponents to frustrate the bill’s passage. Under normal circumstances, H.R. 5897 would have passed: It garnered 237 yea votes, sufficient to pass under majority rules. But the bill came before the House of Representatives under “suspension,” an expedited procedure in which debate time is limited and a bill requires a supermajority to pass.
Rallied by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), a minority of House representatives, 180 altogether, voted nay. The bill fell 53 votes shy of the measure needed to pass under the fast-track rules. “We should not celebrate the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians or the destruction of two major Japanese cities no matter how proud we are of our ability to innovate,” Rep. Kucinich said in a release after the vote failed.
The Manhattan Project National Historic Park Act would have incorporated several historic sites into the national park. Hanford’s Reactor B, where scientists transmuted irradiated uranium into plutonium, was one of them, as were relevant facilities and areas in Los Alamos and Oak Ridge.
Plans for the new national park had not yet outlined the role that architects and landscape architects would play in restoring the historic sites or building new research and education centers. But those plans may still come to fruition. The Associated Press reports that Rep. Hastings does not consider the bill dead—only delayed.