The House and Senate had passed different versions of the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of Agriculture and for the Food and Drug Administration. As is usual procedure in such situations, a conference was held between representatives of the two bodies to develop a final version of the bill. After a final version is developed, it must then be approved by each body. The bill contained $2.7 billion more than the equivalent legislation provided in fiscal year 2009.
This vote was on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for House debate of the final version of the 2010 Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration funding bill. Under the rule, any point of order that could be made against the conference report under usual House procedures was waived.
Rep. McGovern (D-MA), anticipating the kind of criticisms that the Republican minority had made against the procedure that had been used by the Democratic majority for a series of spending bills, said that the Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration funding bill had gone “through the regular order.”
Referring to the increased funding in the bill, he said: “It is unconscionable to me that anyone can complain about helping people in need during these tough economic times . . . Hunger is a real problem in America, and this bill provides funding that keeps the safety net intact . . . for people who simply cannot make ends meet. Yet some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle say we cannot afford to properly fund these programs, insinuating that we should turn our backs on these people who are in desperate need.”
Rep. Foxx (R-NC) was leading the Republican side in opposing the rule. She repeated a complaint regarding legislative procedure that the Republican minority had consistently made during the debate on a variety of spending bills, that the Democrats “took unprecedented steps to silence both the minority and their own Democrat colleagues by offering all appropriations bills under (a) closed rule that restricted the offering of amendments.”
Rep. Dreier (R-CA) expressed his opposition to the substance of the bill itself, although he said that he shared the concern of Rep. McGovern “about nutrition, child nutrition especially. It is a very high priority.” Dreier went on to say that “the tired old argument that somehow those of us who are Republicans want to throw children out in the street and have them starve is a nonstarter.” He asserted that there “are other areas in the legislation where cuts can be made” to pay for the increases he agreed were necessary.
The resolution passed by a vote of 241-178. All two hundred and forty-one “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Eight other Democrats joined all one hundred and seventy Republicans voted and “nay”. As a result the House was able to begin formal debate of the fiscal year 2010 funding bill for the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.