This was a vote ending debate (known as a “cloture motion”) on a motion to bring up legislation (known as a “motion to proceed”) that would have given firefighters, law enforcement officers, and emergency medical professionals the right the right to bargain collectively with their employers.
A cloture motion is a procedure by which the Senate can vote to end, or to place a time limit on, debate of a bill, and thereby overcome a filibuster. In addition, at least 60 senators must vote in favor of a cloture motion in order for it to pass. (This cloture vote was not on the collective bargaining bill itself, but rather on the motion to begin debate on the bill.)
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) praised the underlying legislation: “From the increased risk of terrorist attacks, to the catastrophic hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires that have ravaged our country from coast to coast, each and every day we ask more from our emergency workers, and they always rise to the challenge. These are people who have chosen to dedicate their lives to serving their communities…The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act [the underlying bill] provides these brave men and women with basic rights to bargain collectively, a right that workers in many other industries have used effectively to improve relations with their supervisors.”
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) argued that the bill would make it more expensive to hire police officers and firefighters, thus making it more difficult for them to find work: “…This bill provides no direct benefit to any police officer, firefighter or first responder. It doesn't provide a dime in federal money to any State, city or town to hire, to train or to equip any additional public safety personnel. In fact, it simply imposes costs that will make that result less likely.”
While a majority of senators (55) voted in favor of this motion, at least 60 senators must vote in favor a cloture motion in order for it to pass. Since 60 senators did not vote in favor of cloture, the motion failed. The vote on this motion was 55-43. Voting “yea” were 55 Democrats. All 40 Republicans present and 3 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate rejected a motion ending debate on a motion to bring up legislation that would have given firefighters, law enforcement officers, and emergency medical professionals the right the right to bargain collectively with their employers.