This was a vote on the amendment offered by Rep. Wittman (R-V A) to H.R.3293, the bill that provided 2010 fiscal year funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. The amendment would have reduced total funding in the bill by $803 million or .5% of its total amount
Wittman said he did not question the value of many of the programs funded by this bill, but “I offer this amendment because our nation cannot continue on this path of deficit spending without serious, negative, long-term consequences.” He noted that the bill had more than $160 billion in discretionary spending, which was 7% over the fiscal year 2009 level, and a 12.8% increase in spending over the 2008 level. Wittman added that “(I)t's hard to explain to a family that has had to make tough choices about their own spending that Washington can't make the same tough choices.”
Rep. Tiahrt (R-KS) supported the amendment. He claimed that, including the funds for these departments that were provided in the recently-passed economic stimulus legislation, the increase in their spending from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2010 is actually 93%. He then said, “when you look at it in total, a .5% reduction is merely scratching the surface . . . this doesn't eliminate any programs. This doesn't put anybody in a hardship.”
Rep. Obey (D-WI), who chairs the Appropriations Committee that developed H.R. 3293, opposed the amendment. He began by saying that it “would cut $803 million out of important investments in this bill.” Obey then claimed that the Appropriations Committee “has already cut a total of $10 billion from the President's discretionary spending request, and this bill . . . on a comparable basis, is (actually only 3.6% above the equivalent 2009 spending levels). That is hardly runaway spending. Furthermore, when you look at program lines, you will see that this bill makes hard choices to terminate programs that are not working, with $1.3 billion in cuts to individual programs below the 2009 level. The bill terminates or cuts 44 programs. The largest single program increase is for the Social Security Administration, effectively one fourth of the bill's entire increase for 2009.”
Obey concluded his remarks by saying that no Democrat “needs to hear a lecture about deficits. I have opposed the Bush policies, both economic and war policies, which led to the unraveling of the budget, which led to a huge amount of debt and which led to the collapse of the economy. I don't think we need more of that kind of medicine.”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 199-229. One hundred and sixty-seven Republicans and thirty-two Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and twenty-five Democrats and four Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, no reduction was made in the total amount in the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.