What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Insuring Government Has Adequate Financing to Function : H.R. 700 (Healthy Communities Water Supply Act), Price of Georgia amendment to require offsets to the bill's cost in other parts of the federal budget/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 house Roll Call 128)
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[POW!]
 

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H.R. 700 (Healthy Communities Water Supply Act), Price of Georgia amendment to require offsets to the bill's cost in other parts of the federal budget/On agreeing to the amendment
house Roll Call 128     Mar 08, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment to a clean-water bill that would revive a $125 million pilot program aimed at developing alternative water sources. The legislation would provide grants to local governments, water agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) proposed an amendment that would have required the bill to include fiscal offsets in other parts of the federal budget so that there would be no net increase in the federal budget. Price said his amendment was a matter of "responsibility." Price also proposed a similar amendment to another piece of water-quality legislation that would have required that cost of that bill to be offset, as well. (See Roll Call 123.)

"For some in this Chamber, $125 million may not be very much money," Price said in a floor speech, "but for folks in my district, and I suspect for folks around this Nation, $125 million is a lot of money."

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) responded that Price's amendment mixes up the issue of authorization of appropriations.

All federal programs must be authorized before money is appropriated for them. This bill was such an authorization, and thus no money was to be appropriated at this time. The amendment, however, would require that any authorization find a corresponding offset in the federal budget, regardless of whether the program ever receives any funding. Democrats maintained that any provision to require offsets (also known as pay-as-you-go rules) should be debated as part of the funding bill itself, not in the legislation to authorize it.

"This is an authorization committee, and actual funding of these programs through the appropriations process, which is where this will be more appropriate," Johnson said. "This amendment would require that any authorization of appropriations be considered with corresponding offsets regardless of whether the program ever receives any funding. It is possible that it won't.

"This is an inappropriate limitation on the ability of Congress to address the needs of the Nation," she added.

Price responded that his amendment would require Congress to find offsets only if "there should be money spent for these grant projects." Regardless, he said, adopting his amendment would put the House on record that any appropriations that would result from the bill should be offset.

A majority of the House did not agree. By a vote of 176-256, lawmakers defeated his amendment. Only one Democrat joined with 175 Republicans in voting for it, and 22 Republicans crossed party lines to vote against it. Thus, a clean-water bill that would revive a $125 million pilot program aimed at developing alternative water sources went forward without a provision to require future appropriations to be offset by cutting other programs.

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