What: All Issues : Family Planning : Abortion : (H.R. 1388) On a motion to add language to a bill funding local community service and volunteer efforts that would prohibit the volunteers from discussing or promoting abortions, and from engaging in lobbying, union organizing, political activity, voter registration or religious teaching (2009 house Roll Call 139)
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(H.R. 1388) On a motion to add language to a bill funding local community service and volunteer efforts that would prohibit the volunteers from discussing or promoting abortions, and from engaging in lobbying, union organizing, political activity, voter registration or religious teaching
house Roll Call 139     Mar 18, 2009
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

The vote was on a motion to recommit (send back) the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act (the “GIVE Act”) to committee with instructions to add language that would prohibit the volunteers from discussing or promoting abortions, and from engaging in lobbying, union organizing, political activity, voter registration or religious teaching. The primary purpose of the GIVE Act was to provide funds to volunteer organizations.  A “motion to recommit with instructions” is a procedural technique used to modify or delay legislation. If the motion is successful, it returns the measure to the committee that developed the bill with orders to make specified changes before the measure can be returned to the full House for reconsideration.

Rep. Foxx (R-NC), who made the motion, suggested that the additional language was needed because: “Groups that might be eligible for these grants and volunteers . . . include a laundry list of organizations that engage in activities that many Americans do not support.”  She added “the Federal Government prohibits use of Federal funds to be used for abortion as a form of family planning and the Federal Government should not be paying individuals to volunteer their time at locations that are prohibited from receiving taxpayer dollars . . . .” Foxx concluded her remarks by saying that her motion to recommit was designed to see to it “that taxpayer dollars are not directed toward programs that are politically divisive and morally objectionable.”

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), a supporter of the GIVE ACT, said of the amendment: “I am against it, but I will not oppose it.” He explained that he believed most of the instructions in the motion to recommit were “already covered in statutes, regulations and the grant agreements . . . making sure that people who get these grants don’t engage in activities that they should not be. So we (in the majority) plan to accept this amendment . . . and I would ask that (Members) feel free to vote for the motion to recommit.”

The motion to recommit the bill and add the noted language passed by a vote of 318-105. One hundred and seventy-four Republicans and one hundred and forty-forty Democrats voted “aye”.  All 105 “nay” votes were cast by Democrats, including most progressives. As a result, language was added to the GIVE Act prohibiting volunteers in the programs it funded from discussing or promoting abortions, and from engaging in lobbying, union organizing, political activity, voter registration or religious teaching.

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