H. Res. 533, Providing for consideration of legislation requiring a pullout of combat troops from Iraq by April 2008 (H.R. 2956)/On ordering the previous question
house Roll Call 620 Jul 12, 2007
This was a procedural vote on a resolution outlining the rules for consideration of a bill requiring a pullout of combat troops from Iraq by April 2008.
The resolution outlined the rules for debate for the legislation, including how much floor time would be granted to each side and which amendments would be considered in order. The resolution is thus commonly known as the rules package.
Republicans opposed the rules package because the Democratic-controlled Rules Committee proposed what's known as a "closed rule" and allowed for no amendments.
"It has actually been several weeks now since we have had a meaningless vote on the issue of Iraq, and so I suppose we are overdue for another one," said Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.). "And knowing that their proposal cannot withstand any critical scrutiny, they have once again shut down the process and brought this to us under a completely closed rule, not allowing any of the very thoughtful proposed alternatives to be considered whatsoever."
Dreier brought an amendment to the Rules Committee that would have substituted the Democrat-drafted bill with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel created by Congress to study the war strategy and progress.
Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) responded to Democrats' claims that they were running the House much as the Republicans had when they were in power. "That is about the most insignificant and meaningless statement [they] could make, because Democrats are now in charge, and they are in charge in part because of the war in Iraq and because they promised to be different and have open debate and allow us all to say what we needed to say and from that find consensus."
Democrats said it was time to stop debating and reign in the war.
"The war in Iraq is breaking the back of our military. It is causing severe damage to the federal budget to the tune of $10 billion each month, and causing grave harm to the future fiscal health of our nation," Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) "And while President Bush keeps scorning deadlines and promising breakthroughs that never come, it is clear that he lacks the vision, the wisdom or the courage to chart a new course. It is frighteningly clear that the President plans, instead, to stay the course and dump this mess on the next President. It is time for Congress to step up to the plate and change direction in Iraq."
This vote was a motion ordering the previous question, which is a parliamentary maneuver that effectively ends debate, prohibits amendment and moves the House to a vote for an up-or-down of the resolution under consideration. If the motion for the previous question is defeated, the House in effect turns control of the floor over to the lawmaker who led the opposition to the question at hand, usually a member of the minority party. As such, motions to order the previous question are usually party-line votes, and the majority party almost always prevails.
Such was the case for this vote, and all Republicans present but one (Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina) voted against the motion and all Democrats present but three (Reps. John Barrow and Jim Marshall of Georgia and Christopher Carney of Pennsylvania) voted for it, and the motion passed 225 to 197. Thus, a resolution outlining the rules for debate for a bill to pull combat troops out of Iraq by April 2008 overcame a parliamentary hurdle and came one step from adoption.
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