This was procedural vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and prohibiting amendments to legislation requiring federal agencies to determine which employees are eligible to telecommute (work from home). The bill also required those agencies to designate an official to supervise telecommuting programs for federal employees.
If passed, this particular procedural motion -- known as the “previous question" -- effectively ends debate and brings the pending legislation to an immediate vote.
[The House first voted on this bill on May 6 under suspension of the rules. (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.) While a majority of members supported the telecommuting bill, the measure did not receive a two-thirds majority vote required under suspension of the rules. Thus, Democratic leaders chose to bring the bill up again under a different process requiring only a simple majority vote for passage.]
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) urged support for the resolution and the underlying bill: “Even in this July heat, it is hard to forget the historic snowfall that blanketed the Washington region this past winter. OMB [the Office of Management and Budget] estimated that for each day the federal government was shut down during the storms, the government lost $71 million worth of productivity. Had some agencies not allowed their employees to telecommute, the cost of lost productivity would have been $100 million.”
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) argued the bill would only help members of government employee unions: “…It's my sad duty to come before you yet again today to speak in opposition to spending this House's valuable time to consider a bill that would do absolutely nothing to respond to the very real concerns facing Americans every day. Here we are with a 9.5 percent unemployment rate, the largest deficit in our history, and the national debt at almost $14 trillion. The response of the liberal Democratic leadership? A bill making it easier for federal employees to stay at home to work and creating more government union jobs.“
The House agreed to the previous question motion by a vote of 232-184. 232 Democrats voted “yea.” 173 Republicans and 11 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House proceeded to a final vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and prohibiting amendments to legislation requiring federal agencies to determine which employees are eligible to telecommute, and designating an official to supervise telecommuting programs.