What: All Issues : Fair Taxation : Tax Breaks for the Rich : (H.R 1586) On suspending the usual House rules and passing a bill imposing a 90% tax on bonuses given to executives of AIG after the government had “bailed out” the company. (2009 house Roll Call 143)
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(H.R 1586) On suspending the usual House rules and passing a bill imposing a 90% tax on bonuses given to executives of AIG after the government had “bailed out” the company.
house Roll Call 143     Mar 19, 2009
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a vote on a motion to suspend the House rules and pass H.R. 1586, which imposed a 90% tax on bonuses given to AIG executives that were paid after the government had “bailed out” the company with hundreds of billions of federal dollars. The news about these bonuses had generated a bipartisan protest. Rep. Rangel (D-NY), chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, led the effort in support of the legislation. He explained that “we're not trying to punish anybody . . . Rewards are subjective, but you don't do it with taxpayers' money. . . .” Rangel said the AIG officials do not “deserve to have these bonuses at taxpayer expense.” He noted that the way the bill was being handled, with the House rules being suspended, was “an extraordinary procedure”, but added “this is an extraordinary situation . . . (that) calls for an extraordinary response to it.” 

A motion to suspend the rules and pass a bill is used for legislation that the leadership deems to be not very controversial. There is a limited time period for debate.  Amendments cannot be offered. A two thirds vote is required to approve the motion and pass a bill, rather than the usual majority.

Rep. Pingree (D-ME), speaking in support H.R. 1586 during a previous procedural debate relating to the measure, had said “people across the country are rightly outraged by the egregious nature of the AIG bonuses. It is unconscionable for AIG to pay out $165 million in bonuses to the same top executives who mismanaged the company to the point of failure . . . Families and businesses . . . are struggling to make ends meet and stay in their homes. . . Meanwhile, on Wall Street, we see executives who seem to think they live by a different set of rules . . . .”

The Republican minority also expressed support for imposing a heavy tax on the bonuses. However, many Republicans raised questions about how the bonuses were originally permitted. House Minority Leader Boehner (R-OH), referring to the previously-passed economic stimulus package, said “in that bill was . . . this one sentence that made it clear that someone knew that these AIG bonuses were about to be paid, and they didn't want them stopped. So somehow in the dark of night, this one sentence was added to the bill so that AIG would pay these bonuses to their executives. I'm wondering where did the language come from. Who wrote it?  . . . (D)o we have to have this political charade of bringing this bill out here? I don't think so.”

The motion carried by a vote of 328-93. Two hundred and forty-three Democrats and eighty-five Republicans voted “aye”. Eighty-seven Republicans and six Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the House suspended its usual rules, and passed and sent on to the Senate the bill imposing a 90% tax on bonuses paid to AIG executives.

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