This was a 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 places other than office, such as one’s home).
If passed, this particular procedural motion -- known as the “previous question" -- effectively ends debate and brings the pending legislation to an immediate vote.
The bill would also have required those agencies to designate an official to supervise telecommuting programs for federal employees. The House first passed this “telework” bill on July 14, 2010, after Republicans successfully amended the measure to prohibit federal employees from engaging in union or collective bargaining activities while telecommuting. The Senate then took up that bill, and removed the anti-union language before passing the measure. This vote was on the Senate-passed legislation (which did not include the restriction on union activities).
Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-NY) urged support for the resolution and the underlying legislation: “Telecommuting…helps to reduce traffic congestion. Not only does this save gas and emissions, but it decreases rush-hour traffic for all residents of the D.C. metro area, whether they work for the federal government or in the private sector. In the past, some have argued that telecommuting just allows lazy government employees to sit at home and pretend to work. That's simply not the case.”
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sharply criticized the underlying bill: “If we accept as truth liberal claims that unemployment is the exclusive issue of concern to all voters, one must wonder what the liberals plan to do about the stalled economy now that the voters have forced them to refocus. The answer to reducing the unemployment rate: pass flawed legislation that makes it easier for federal employees to stay at home and get paid for work.”
The House agreed to the previous question motion by a vote of 239-171. 239 Democrats voted “yea.” All 168 Republicans present and 3 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.