H.R.3293 provided 2010 fiscal year funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. It included $161 billion in spending. This was on a motion to have the House should move to an immediate vote on the resolution setting the terms of debate of the bill.
Rep Hastings (D-FL), who was leading the support for the resolution setting the terms for debate, claimed that H.R. 3293 continued Congress' “commitment to fiscal responsibility by coming in $52 million below the President's request, and cutting 46 individual programs . . . .” The resolution for H.R. 3293 permitted that only a limited number of amendments could be offered to the bill.
The Republican minority had been engaged in an ongoing effort against what they maintained was the unfair practice of the Democratic majority of presenting rules limiting the number of amendments that could be offered on bills, especially spending bills such as H.R. 3288.The Democrats were taking the position that a limitation on the number of amendments was necessitated by the need to keep to a congressional schedule of passing all spending bills in a timely manner. In recent years, Congress had been well behind schedule in completing spending bills, and had failed to pass all of them before the beginning of the fiscal year they covered.
Rep. Flake (R-AZ), who had been among the most vocal opponents of the limitation on amendments, described the limiting of amendments as “martial law, in legislative terms . . . .” He said: “(W)e're in the minority, yes. But we do have some rights . . . .” Referring to the position of the Democrats that a limitation on the number of amendments was necessitated by the need to keep to a congressional schedule, Flake said it was “(even) if we agree to stay within the time constraints, then they still won't allow us to substitute the amendments that we would like to offer.”
He claimed “We're told, ‘We've got to get it done today, and we're only going to allow four amendments from the (Republican) side, and they are the four that we pick.’” Flake added “bad process always begets bad policy, and it will come back to bite at some point.”
Rep. Sessions (R-TX) argued that this was “the first time in the history of the Republic” that restrictions on amendments in spending bills have been imposed. He described the schedule set by the Democratic majority on the passage of all spending bills as “an arbitrary timeline . . . .” and claimed that there were hundreds of amendments that both Democrats and Republicans wanted to offer. Sessions said the limitation on amendments had particularly serious consequences on H.R. 3293, which had a “huge increase in spending” over the corresponding figures in the current fiscal year.
The motion passed on a vote of 239-181. Two hundred and thirty-eight Democrats and one Republican voted “aye”. One hundred seventy Republicans and eleven Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the House moved to an immediate vote on the resolution setting the terms for debate on the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.