This vote was on whether to waive a procedural objection raised against an amendment. The amendment by Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, was itself offered to a bill that would reauthorize the Corporation for National and Community Service programs. This program includes the national service programs known as VISTA and AmeriCorps.Specifically, Crapo’s amendment would increase the borrowing authority of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from $30 billion to $100 billion, and authorize a temporary increase in borrowing authority up to $500 billion if deemed necessary.
When Crapo offered his amendment, Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., raised what is known as a "point of order" against the amendment. A "point of order" is a procedural motion senators may bring up when they feel a bill, amendment or other motion violates certain rules set out by Congress to govern itself. Unless senators vote to waive those rules – which usually takes 60 votes, a large margin in the Senate -- the bill, amendment or motion in question can be killed by the point of order. Mikulski raised a point of order against the bill that it violates the rule prohibiting any legislation from raising the deficit. Crapo then made a motion that the rule be waived in this case, which is what this vote was on.
Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who helped Crapo draft the amendment, said it would enable the FDIC (which ensures most bank deposits against losses due to financial turmoil) to have the resources it needs to deal with the current financial crisis. Corker said the amendment is particularly important for smaller community banks. Lawmakers had tried to couple similar legislation with a bill to help ease mortgage troubles for homes at risk of foreclosure, but without success.
"This gives the FDIC the ability to move into an organization quickly and to seize it to protect depositors’ accounts. I know right now the fund is running thin. My guess is that could affect—and actually the FDIC has lobbied for this—this might affect future actions if they don’t feel as though they have the resources necessary to go into an organization to do the things they need to do to make sure depositors are protected," Corker said.
Mikulski said there is much she agrees with in the amendment, but that a bill to bolster national service is not the right place for it.
"Introducing contentious housing and economic issues into this debate would jeopardize the bipartisan support we have on this bill and could wreak havoc in the conference we will be facing with the House. We don’t want to be in havoc with the House. It is one thing to be negotiating assertively, representing a Senator’s viewpoint with the House on national service and what is the best, most prudent, and affordable way to do it, but if we have to carry over to the House an amendment dealing with FDIC and insurance—that really belongs on another bill," Mikulski said. She noted that there is “ much about the policy in the amendment that I agree with,” but that she had been notified by the committee with jurisdiction over the issue that they will be taking it up separately.
The motion was rejected by a vote of 48-49. Every Republican present voted for the motion. Of Democrats present, 8 voted for the motion and 47 voted against it. The end result is that the motion to waive the rules and allow an amendment that would have boosted the FDIC's borrowing authority failed. As a result the amendment was defeated by a procedural maneuver.