What: All Issues : Corporate Subsidies : Coal Industry : Providing new grant programs for early-career scientists and engineers (H.R. 363)/Motion to recommit with instructions to add language giving priority to grants to expand domestic energy production and coal-to-liquid technology (2007 house Roll Call 256)
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Providing new grant programs for early-career scientists and engineers (H.R. 363)/Motion to recommit with instructions to add language giving priority to grants to expand domestic energy production and coal-to-liquid technology
house Roll Call 256     Apr 24, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

This vote was on an amendment to a bill to provide new grant programs for early-career scientists and engineers. Republicans motioned to send the bill back to committee with instructions to add language to give priority to grants to expand domestic energy production and coal-to-liquid technology.

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.

Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) made the motion to recommit because he said the country "must encourage new innovations in domestic energy supply." He said that the legislation he was seeking to amend "already emphasizes the need for increased science and engineer research grants, especially with regard to our nation's young people," but what it did not address, in his view, was "the need for further diversification of our energy sources."

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) acknowledged that the motion was designed to peel off supporter among Democrats from states with coal interests. "This is a call to my fossil fuel Democrats, my coal Democrats, to address the need of our energy security issues," Shimkus said.

Democrats complained that they were not given the "courtesy" of seeing the motion to recommit until seconds before it was introduced by Republicans - as they would have if Republicans had offered it instead as a straight-up amendment. "But, with that said, we will accept this motion, and we will consider it in conference where it can be considered under the light of more scrutiny," said Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), referring to the House-Senate conference committee that is convened after legislation passes both chambers in order to iron out any differences between the two versions.

By offering this amendment as a motion to recommit, Republicans were able to do what they may not have accomplished otherwise, which was bring coal interests to the table during the conference committee. Had the Democratic leadership seen the text of the motion in advance - as would have been required during a regular amendment process - it likely would have prevented the measure from being offered on the House floor through parliamentary maneuvers in the rule outlining consideration of the bill.

The Republican attempt to attract sufficient support from coal-state Democrats and side-step the Democratic leadership worked, however, and 75 Democrats voted for the motion, in addition to all but five Republicans. Thus, on a vote of 264 to 154, a motion to send legislation authorizing new grant programs for early-career scientists and engineers back to committee with instructions to add language requiring priority to be given to grants to expand domestic energy production and coal-to-liquid technology passed the House, and the legislation was amended to reflect the change.

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