This was a vote on a motion to table (kill) an amendment by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) that would have prevented funds provided by a veterans bill from being spent until the Senate passed a budget blueprint bill to set limits on federal government spending in fiscal year 2012. This amendment was offered to legislation that would provide annual funding for veterans’ programs and military base construction in fiscal year 2012.
Vitter urged support for his amendment: “This amendment is very simple. It is very straightforward. I think it is important and makes a central point. The amendment says these funds in this bill will not be spent unless and until we have a 2012 budget, unless we start with first things first and decide what the overall budget framework is and then move forward with spending, with appropriations bills consistent with that budget. That is all it says. It is simple, straightforward, but it is an important point. Folks around America, including in the market, are scratching their heads. They look at Washington and us and the Congress and the president and see almost complete dysfunction in the complete lack of a budget, even lack of an attempt to get a budget in place, which is a glaring, maybe the top example of that. This isn't just a good, commonsense idea, something every family does, something every small business does…”
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) opposed Vitter’s amendment: “…The Vitter amendment pending before the Senate is another attempt to derail the progress we have made in a bipartisan fashion on the MilCon/VA [Military Constructions and Veterans’ Affairs] bill….we have an amendment that says none of the critical funding provided in the bill can be obligated in excess of a budget resolution that does not exist. The strictest interpretation of this means the VA [Veterans’ Administration] can't spend money on benefits for vets, and our military can't construct new training, housing, or other critical facilities until we have a budget agreement. I don't disagree that it is important to pass a budget, but the Senate has overwhelmingly voted to move this bill so as to not delay essential funding for our troops and vets…This is a responsible and bipartisan bill, and the pending amendment would stop all progress we have made.”
The Senate tabled (killed) Vitter’s amendment by a vote of 69-30. All 53 Democrats and 16 Republicans voted “yea” (in favor of killing the amendment). 30 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate rejected an amendment that would have prevented funds provided by a veterans bill from being spent until the Senate passed a budget bill to set limits federal government spending in fiscal year 2012.