This was a vote on a motion to end debate (known as a “cloture motion”) on a motion to bring up (known as a “motion to proceed”) legislation that would have provided $35 billion to state governments to prevent layoffs of firefighters, teachers, and police officers. Cloture motions require a 60-vote majority for passage. This bill was part of a larger job creation plan championed by President Obama. Since Senate Republicans had blocked that larger plan, Democrats attempted to pass the different components Obama’s jobs measure in a “piecemeal” manner.
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) urged support for this bill: “I am going to talk a little bit today about the legislation…dealing with…maintaining jobs for teachers, firefighters, and police officers. Seventy-five percent of Americans support this legislation. This is not a poll that some Democratic pollster did, it is a CNN-Gallup poll. This week, my Republican colleagues have rallied against teachers and first responders. That is our latest proposal, to create hundreds of thousands of American jobs and save other jobs….Democrats' No. 1 priority is to create jobs. There are 14 million Americans out of work today. So to us, putting hundreds of thousands of people back to work teaching children, having more police patrolling our streets, firefighters fighting our fires, doing the rescue work they do so well, is our priority. It seems that the No. 1 priority of my Republican colleagues is to defeat President Obama. Their strategy is to keep the economy weak as long as possible, so they oppose legislation with a solid record of creating jobs.…Defeating job-creating legislation, defeating the economy, and defeating the president--that is how Senate Republicans measure success.”
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) argued: “…The two parties have a fundamentally different take on the solution. For Democrats, the solution, apparently, is to increase the number of people who work for the government.…Republicans take a different view. We recognize that government has an important role to play. We recognize the need for commonsense regulations to ensure the safety of our citizens and the preservation of our resources. But it has become increasingly clear to many Americans that Democrats in Washington have lost all sense of balance when it comes to both the size and the scope of the federal government in Washington. Based on the letters I get and the people I meet, there is a growing sense out there that government regulations are simply and completely out of control and that this is one of the main reasons we are in this jobs crisis. There is a growing sense the reason for this is that lawmakers and bureaucrats in Washington have completely lost touch--completely and totally lost touch--with the struggles folks outside the beltway are going through….What we need to do is to focus on helping the private sector grow. I know the Democratic plan is to focus on their government jobs bill instead, to punish private sector job creators with yet another tax to subsidize even more temporary government jobs at the State level. But what I am saying is, let's put the government stimulus bills aside for a change and do something for the small business men and women in this country who are begging for mercy from their own government, right here in Washington.”
The vote on this cloture motion was 50-50. Voting “yea” were 50 Democrats. 47 Republicans and 3 Democrats voted “nay.” Since this motion did not receive a 60-vote majority, the cloture motion was rejected. As a result, the Senate effectively killed legislation that would have provided $35 billion to state governments to prevent layoffs of firefighters, teachers, and police officers.