What: All Issues : Housing : Funding for Housing Programs : Rules for consideration (H. Res. 116) of the fiscal 2007 continuing resolution to fund the federal government/Motion to order the previous question (end debate and prohibit amendment) (2007 house Roll Call 66)
 Who: All Members
[POW!]
 

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Rules for consideration (H. Res. 116) of the fiscal 2007 continuing resolution to fund the federal government/Motion to order the previous question (end debate and prohibit amendment)
house Roll Call 66     Jan 31, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a procedural vote on a resolution outlining the rules for debate on a spending bill to fund the government through the end of the 2007 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Essentially, this vote forced an end to debate on the rules for consideration in order to bring the measure up for a vote.

The rules of consideration, or rules package as it is commonly known, outline how much time will be given to each side for debate and what amendments will be considered in order.

In this case, the majority Democrats proposed what's known as a closed rule and barred Republican amendments. Republicans protested the move because they said that the continuing resolution (CR) amounted to an omnibus appropriations bill, in which they had very little say. An omnibus is a number of spending bills together in one piece of legislation for expediency.

The appropriations bill was necessary at all only because Republicans did not finish the mandatory spending bills at the end of their tenure in the leadership of both chambers of Congress in January 2007 and instead passed a CR that funded the government until Feb. 15. Rather than pass individual bills for the nine leftover fiscal 2007 spending measures, the new Democratic leadership chose to roll them all into one bill. Without another continuing resolution to fund the departments and agencies, a large portion of the federal government would have to shut down.

The continuing resolution would provide $463.5 billion for the programs covered by the nine outstanding fiscal 2007 appropriations bills.

Republicans were indignant at the process that created the bill, and thus bitterly opposed the rules for debate. "It is legislation that few have seen, which cannot be amended in any way, and that will pass this House after only one hour of debate," Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) said.

Democrats defended the closed rule by pointing out that such stopgap spending measures typically are passed without the opportunity for amendment. Republicans countered that was only true when they were true continuing resolutions, unlike this legislation, which included many changes over fiscal 2006 funding levels. Typically, CRs are one-page documents that just carry forward last year's funding levels into the next fiscal year with mere inflationary adjustments. This legislation carried 137 pages of budgetary changes to veterans' benefits, health care and education.

Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) said Republicans abdicated their responsibilities by leaving the fiscal 2007 spending bills to the next Congress. "You forfeited any right to squawk about how we cleaned up your mess," he said.

This vote was a motion ordering the previous question, which is a parliamentary maneuver that effectively ends debate, prohibits amendment and moves the House to a vote for an up-or-down of the resolution under consideration. If the motion for the previous question is defeated, the House in effect turns control of the floor over to the lawmaker who led the opposition to the question at hand, usually a member of the minority party. As such, motions to order the previous question are usually party-line votes, and the majority party almost always prevails.

Such was the case for this vote, and all Republicans present but one voted against the measure and all Democrats present but two voted for it, and the motion passed 227-192. Thus, on a party-line vote the House overcame a procedural hurdle and came one step closer to passing rules for debate for a spending bill to fund the federal government through the remainder of fiscal 2007.

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