This was a vote on a motion to end debate (known as a “cloture motion”) on legislation that would provide annual funding for veterans’ programs and military base construction in fiscal year 2012.
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) supported the motion to end debate and the underlying veterans bill: “We are all mindful of the severe economic problems facing this Nation, and this bill reflects that reality. It is $1.25 billion below the budget request and $618 million below the fiscal year 2011 enacted level. I can assure my colleagues there are no congressional earmarks in the bill. As always, protecting essential benefits and health care for veterans tops my list of priorities. With an aging population of veterans requiring increased services, and a surge of combat veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars entering the system, the demand for VA health care services has increased dramatically in recent years. The number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the VA health care system will exceed half a million in 2012, a 106-percent increase since 2008.
The sluggish economy is exacerbating the pressure on the VA as more and more out of work or underemployed veterans turn to the VA for their health care.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions argued that the Senate should not vote on any spending bills, since the chamber had not passed a budget outline for 2012: “I just would say the spasm that is occurring in the Senate, the frustration that is boiling up, is not for light or transient reasons. It is a big deal when the U.S. Government has been for months and will continue to be borrowing about 40 percent of every $1 we spend, running up the largest deficits the nation has ever seen. The law says, the United States Code says you should have a budget. When you set a budget, you take all the bills that are out there and tell them how much money they have to spend so the total amount of money at the end does not exceed a dangerous level for the country. That is what a budget does.”
The Senate agreed to the motion to end debate on the veterans bill by a vote of 71-26. All 53 Democrats and 18 Republicans voted “yea.” 26 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate ended debate and voted on legislation that would provide annual funding for veterans’ programs and military base construction in fiscal year 2012.
Title:(H.R. 2055) Legislation that would provide annual funding for veterans’ programs and military base construction in fiscal year 2012 -- On a motion to waive the Senate’s budget rules and allow senators to continue debating the bill
Description:This was a vote on a motion to waive the Senate’s budget rules and allow senators to continue debating legislation that would provide annual funding for veterans’ programs and military base construction in fiscal year 2012.
While the Senate was debating the veterans bill, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) raised a parliamentary objection (known as a “point of order”) against the bill. Specifically, the Senate had not passed a budget blueprint--yet Senate rules require passage of such a budget measure before the chamber can begin debating spending bills. Since, the Senate was considering a veterans spending bill without having passed a budget, Sessions raised a parliamentary objection: “We have in the United States Code a budget act [law]. The budget act says you shouldn't be bringing forth appropriating bills until you have a budget. That is pretty simple, that is pretty commonsensical, and it is the correct way to do business. We haven't had a budget for 806 days now. The reason we are spending this country into bankruptcy is we have had no budget. This year, the majority has not even sought to bring one to committee, and certainly not brought one on the floor. The Democratic leadership said it would be foolish to pass a budget. Well, I don't think it is foolish to pass a budget. I think our lack of budget is the reason we have gotten out of control in what we are doing.”
Sen. Tim Johnson made a motion to waive the Senate’s budget rules. While he did not speak on this motion directly, he did speak in favor of the veterans bill: “The MILCON[military construction]-VA [veterans affairs] appropriations [spending] bill provides crucial investments in infrastructure for our military, including barracks and family housing, mission critical training and operational facilities, schools and hospitals, and childcare and family support centers. It also fulfills the Nation's promise to our vets by providing the resources needed for their medical care and benefits….this is a well-balanced and bipartisan bill. It provides resources vital to the well-being of our troops and their families, and to the millions of veterans who have served and sacrificed for their nation.”
The Senate agreed to the motion to waive its budget rules by a vote of 56-40. All 53 Democrats and 3 Republicans voted “yea.” 40 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate proceeded with debate on legislation that would provide annual funding for veterans’ programs and military base construction in fiscal year 2012.