What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : People in Jails and Prisons : Reforming federal disaster loans to small business (H.R. 1361)/Motion to recommit with instructions to prohibit assistance to anyone convicted of a felony (2007 house Roll Call 224)
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Reforming federal disaster loans to small business (H.R. 1361)/Motion to recommit with instructions to prohibit assistance to anyone convicted of a felony
house Roll Call 224     Apr 18, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment to legislation aiming to reform the Small Business Administration's (SBA) disaster loan program, which was widely critiqued for ineffectiveness and delays following the 2005 hurricanes to hit the Gulf Coast. Republicans motioned to send the bill back to committee with language prohibiting federal monies from going to anyone convicted of a felony or who has pleaded "no contest" to a felony.

A motion to recommit with instructions is the minority's last chance to make substantive changes to a bill before a final up-or-down vote on the measure. Democrats charged that Republicans were using this parliamentary move as a ruse to kill the bill.

"If you vote against this motion to recommit, you are saying to your constituents back home that you don't care if these federal funds go to convicted murderers, rapists, or kidnappers for that matter," Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), who authored the legislation, pointed out that McHenry didn't show up to the committee meeting during consideration of the legislation, in her view evidencing his false concern about the substance of the amendment.

"This amendment merely restates what the Small Business Administration does and could actually have the opposite effect and allow more individuals with questionable character to get SBA disaster loans," Velazquez (D-N.Y.) continued. She added that the SBA already has such regulations in place as part of its standard operating procedure.

"I will also note that adopting this motion will for all intents and purposes kill the bill, meaning a little over 1 month before hurricane season, the Federal Government will not have a plan to respond to disasters. Disaster victims will be trapped in the bureaucracy between [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] and SBA," she added.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) furthered Velazquez's contention that the Republicans' motion to recommit was simply a poison pill.

"This is an effort to kill this bill indirectly and without telling the public that that is what you are doing," Hoyer said.

Nonetheless, eight Democrats crossed party lines and voted for the amendment, joining all but one Republican to vote "aye." It still wasn't enough support to pass, however, and the motion to recommit failed by a vote of 204 to 218. Thus, the House rejected an amendment that would have prohibited felons from receiving disaster assistance from the Small Business Administration, duplicating regulations already practiced by the SBA. Had the measure been included in the legislation, Democrats almost certainly would have opposed the bill, effectively killing it. So by rejecting the motion to recommit, the House kept a bill to reform how the SBA handles disaster loans alive and the legislation moved towards final passage.

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