What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Protecting Rights of Congressional Minorities : (H.R. 1320) Final passage of legislation barring members of federal advisory committees (which make policy recommendations to federal government agencies) from being appointed based on their political affiliation, and requiring those committees to provide transcripts of their meetings and disclose information relating to members’ conflicts of interest (2010 house Roll Call 467)
 Who: All Members
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(H.R. 1320) Final passage of legislation barring members of federal advisory committees (which make policy recommendations to federal government agencies) from being appointed based on their political affiliation, and requiring those committees to provide transcripts of their meetings and disclose information relating to members’ conflicts of interest
house Roll Call 467     Jul 26, 2010
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a vote on a motion to suspend the rules and pass legislation barring members of federal advisory committees from being appointed based on their political affiliation. The bill also required advisory committees to provide transcripts of their meetings and disclose information relating to members’ conflicts of interest. Federal advisory committees are comprised of policy experts from the public (government) and private sectors. They make policy recommendations to federal government agencies.

Motions to suspend the rules limit time allowed for debate, and prohibit members from offering amendments. A two-thirds vote is required to approve the motion and pass a bill, rather than the usual majority.
 
Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) urged support for the bill: “Advisory committees provide the President and agencies with expert advice on complex issues. Current examples include the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that was established to advise the President on policies to achieve fiscal sustainability and the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill....[The bill] will shed light on who is advising the government, how they are advising the government, and what they are saying. I urge any colleagues to support this important open-government legislation.”

No members spoke in opposition to the bill, yet most Republicans (124) voted against the measure. A website run by House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), however, expressed Republican sentiment about federal advisory committees – and recommended that Congress cut $170 million in funding for those committees over five years by consolidating them: “In 2008, the Federal government spent $342 million on 917 active Federal Advisory Committees. These committees had nearly 64,000 total members. Many of these committees are duplicative. For example, the National Endowment for the Arts spent $1.3 million on two separate advisory panels, both of which makes recommendations to the NEA [National Endowment for the Arts] chairman…. Consolidating existing advisory committees and with a goal of reducing overall funding by 10% would save taxpayers $34 million next year and $170 million over five years.”

The House agreed to the motion to suspend the rules by a vote of 250-124. 223 Democrats and 27 Republicans voted “yea.” 124 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation barring members of federal advisory committees from being appointed based on their political affiliation, and requiring those committees to provide transcripts of their meetings and disclose information relating to members’ conflicts of interest.

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