This was a vote on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debating the bill providing additional fiscal year 2009 funding for the ongoing military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The rule allowed the Appropriations Committee to offer a major amendment to the bill, but did not allow for Members to offer individual amendments. Although there was general bipartisan support for the additional funding, the Republican minority opposed the rule setting the terms for considering the bill, because it did not allow for any individual amendments to be offered.
Rep. Dreier (R-CA) expressed the position of the Republican minority when he said “the Democratic leadership has done a less than perfect job in dealing with the request for bipartisanship, shutting out Republicans and injecting a greater and greater amount of partisanship into the legislative process. There are some key improvements that I believe need to be made. Unfortunately, the rule that we are considering today prevents any amendments from being considered. Even amidst this great bipartisan effort, the Democratic leadership has chosen to tarnish the outcome by refusing to allow debate on a number of key issues.”
The leading issue on which the Republicans wanted to offer amendments related to the closing of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Rep. Boehner (R-OH), the House Minority Leader, said he opposed the rule because he wanted the House to have “a fair and open debate on (the Guantanamo) issue and (give) Members the opportunity to allow the House to work its will . . . .” Rep. Rogers (R-KY) noted other issues on which he thought the bill providing additional 2009 funding should have focused, including drug enforcement. He urged a “no” vote on the rule, after which, he argued, “we can be allowed to bring these matters to this bill.”
Rep. Perlmutter (D-CO), who was leading the effort on behalf of the rule, did not respond directly to the arguments of the Republicans. He did claim that the amendment prepared by the Appropriations Committee, which the rule made in order to be offered, was drafted “in the spirit of bipartisanship”.
The resolution passed by a vote of 240-188. All two hundred and forty “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. One hundred and seventy-eight Republicans and ten Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the House was able to begin debate on the bill providing additional fiscal year 2009 funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.