This vote was on a motion that would clear the way for passage of a bill funding roads, bridges, public transit, and other transportation projects. Some Republicans argued the bill’s cost violated Senate rules, but the motion would override their objections.
The Senate was on the brink of passing the final, compromise version of the transportation bill, which had been hammered out in negotiations between the Senate and the House of Representatives. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) objected that the bill included too much spending. He noted that the bill allowed a higher level of spending than the House, Senate, and White House had agreed to in a bipartisan budget compromise reached the previous year. Because the bill exceeded this limit, it violated Senate budget rules, Sen. Corker said.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) responded with a motion to waive Senate budget rules. If approved, the motion would clear the way for a vote on final passage of the transportation bill.
Sen. Reid argued that despite Sen. Corker’s objections, the bill was fiscally responsible. He noted that an analysis of the bill by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that it would reduce the federal debt.
“The Congressional Budget Office is a nonpartisan body that determines what spending is for the Congress, and they have determined that this bill is paid for and it reduces the debt,” Sen. Reid said.
Sen. Corker disputed Sen. Reid’s interpretation of the CBO’s analysis, arguing that the bill relied on budget gimmicks to appear balanced.
“According to CBO, this is paid for the old way, where we spend all the money in a year or two and then it is paid for over 10 (years),” Sen. Corker said. “For all of those people who are meeting in the evenings, meeting in groups in rooms trying to solve our nation's fiscal issues, a vote to waive this motion says we don't have the discipline, the courage, or the will to do what we told the American people we would do to try to get our fiscal house in order.”
The Senate approved Sen. Reid’s motion, which would override Sen. Corker’s objections to the bill, by a vote of 63-30. Voting “yea” were 50 Democrats and 13 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 30 Republicans. One Republican voted “present.” As a result, the Senate waived Senate budget rules and proceeded to a final vote on a bill authorizing federal funding for roads, bridges, public transit, and other transportation programs.