(H.R. 2187) A bill authorizing $6.4 billion in new grants and low-interest loans to local educational agencies for the construction, repair, modernization and “greening” of public educational facilities - - on the motion to allow the bill to take effect only so long as the federal deficit is below $500 billion
This was a vote on a motion by Rep. Thompson (R-PA) to add language to a bill, authorizing new school construction, modernization and “greening” grants, which said the bill could only take effect if the federal deficit were below $500 billion.
Thompson, in his explanation of the amendment, said: “(W)e're not cutting the bill. We're not damaging the schools. We're not doing any of the other things that the majority would surely accuse us of. We're keeping this bill exactly as it is now. The only difference is that when our nation's deficit exceeds $500 billion, we will not authorize the funding for this particular new program. Half a trillion dollars is an awfully high bar. In fact, the entire time George W. Bush was President--in fact, the entire history of our great nation, our deficit has never exceeded $500 billion, that is until this year in which we're facing a deficit of $1.84 trillion . . . This motion. . . ensures that this new program will wait until we can afford it.” .
Rep. Dreier (R-CA) supported the motion to add the additional language. He had expressed the view of many Republicans during the debate on the legislation when he said that “the federal government can’t do absolutely everything.” Dreier anticipated an argument would be made that those not supportive of the immediate implementation of the measure did not favor improved schools, and characterized that argument as “absolute lunacy.”
Rep. George Miller (D-CA), one of those leading the support for the measure, opposed the motion to add the additional language. He argued: “(W)e have an attempt to kill this (legislation) based upon a deficit from a party that gave us and left office with $1 trillion in deficits, when they entered office with $5 trillion in surplus . . . The all-time world champions of deficits now want to suggest to you that you should put your schools at the end of the line of the deficit that they created.” Rep. Andrews (D-NJ) added: “(I)f the minority wants to be sure there's a trigger before you can do something, where was the trigger before they enacted the reckless tax cuts for the wealthiest people in this country? Where was the trigger before they enacted the disastrous Medicare part D program and plunged us further in deficit? And where was the trigger before they poured over $1 trillion into a mismanaged war in Iraq? This amendment is 8 years too late.”
The motion failed by a vote of 182-247. One hundred and seventy-six Republicans and six Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and forty-six Democrats and one Republican voted “nay”. As a result, the additional language was not added to the legislation, and the House moved to a vote on passage of the bill.