What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Protecting Rights of Congressional Minorities : H.R. 3. Surface Transportation/Procedural Vote on Motion to Instruct Conferees on Bill Reauthorizing the Nation's Surface Transportation Funding Laws. (2005 house Roll Call 227)
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H.R. 3. Surface Transportation/Procedural Vote on Motion to Instruct Conferees on Bill Reauthorizing the Nation's Surface Transportation Funding Laws.
house Roll Call 227     May 26, 2005
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

In this vote, the House defeated a motion to instruct the conferees on H.R. 3, a bill reauthorizing the nation's surface transportation (highways, etc.) laws. (When the House and Senate pass two different versions of the same bill, they generally hold a conference to resolve the discrepancies between the two. Each body appoints a representative number of its members to participate in the conference. A motion to instruct the conferees is an effort by a representative to request that their conferees on a bill take a specific action with regard to the legislation that is the object of the conference. Often the action is to include or omit a particular provision. The instruction is not binding.) James Oberstar (D-MN) brought this motion to instruct the conferees to do two things: to insist on the level of funding for "highway, transit, and highway and motor carrier safety programs" at least equal to the amount the House provided in its version of the bill; and to ensure that each state would receive back at least 92 percent of the amount of money it contributed to these funds. Making the Progressive argument that emphasized fairness amongst the states, Oberstar insisted that a level of 92 percent return on funds was necessary in order to achieve "equity" between "donor" states who contribute much money to the funds and "donee" states, who receive more than they are able to contribute. Oberstar added that Congress ought to devote more resources to surface transportation, as increases in congestion and traffic were resulting in significant losses in time and money for Americans. Republicans countered that while they agreed that congestion was a costly problem, Oberstar's motion would unrealistically constrain the conferees because achieving the 92-percent return goal for every state would require more total money to be spent than might be available. They added that the motion was premature as the House had not yet even appointed conferees. The House defeated Progressives and rejected the motion to instruct conferees by a virtually party-line vote of 189 to 223. Thus, work on the surface transportation bill continued without a recommendation to conferees to make sure that each state received back at least 92 percent of the funds it contributed for highway, transit and related safety programs.

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