This was a vote on a motion to suspend the rules and pass legislation establishing a new award given by the Labor Department to employers that adopt effective “work-life balance policies” – policies that enable employees to balance the demands of work with family life.
Motions to suspend the rules limit time allowed for debate, and prohibit members from offering amendments. A two-thirds majority vote is required to approve the motion and pass a bill, rather than the usual majority.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey urged support for the bill: “Outside of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides unpaid leave for qualifying employees, there is no national policy to support work-life balance. This award will send a strong message that the Federal Government supports and encourages work-life balance.”
No Republicans spoke in opposition to the bill during floor debate. Most GOP members, however, voted against the measure. Later that evening, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) delivered a speech explaining his opposition to the legislation: “…The goals and objectives of this bill are respectable and even noble ideas. No one questions that a proper work-life balance is extremely important. But, just because something is important, doesn’t mean that Washington has to write a law to protect it or create a bureau to encourage it…it is simply not the job of the federal government to promote good work-life balance.”
The vote on this bill was 249-163. While a majority of members voted for the bill, a two-thirds majority vote is required for passage under suspension of the rules. Since H.R. 4855 did not receive a two-thirds majority vote, the measure was rejected. 230 Democrats and 19 Republicans voted “yea.” 147 Republicans and 16 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected legislation establishing a new award given by the Labor Department to employers that adopt effective “work-life balance policies.” Democratic leaders, however, could bring the bill up again under a process requiring only a simple majority vote for passage.