Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act, requiring a pullout of ground troops from Iraq by April 2008 (H.R. 2956)/On tabling an appeal of the ruling of the chair
house Roll Call 623 Jul 12, 2007
This was a procedural vote with strong undertones about the role the war in Iraq is playing in the larger so-called war on terror. It came up during debate on a bill that would pull combat troops out of Iraq by April 2008.
Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) had proposed a motion to recommit with instructions - a move to send the bill to the Intelligence Committee with language amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to allow electronic surveillance of "a particular known person who is reasonably believed to be in the United States under circumstances in which that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would be required for law enforcement purposes." Basically, Wilson's motion would have amended the bill to allow warrant-less electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists within the United States.
Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) objected on the grounds that Wilson's amendment was not germane (relevant) to the bill, making a parliamentary move known as a point of order.
Wilson responded that "intelligence is the first line of defense in the war on terror, and we are now knowingly operating with our fingers in our ears and our hands over our eyes."
Skelton objected on the grounds that Wilson wasn't addressing the substance of his point of order. At which point the Speaker Pro Tempore (a Democratic appointee of the Speaker to oversee House debate) agreed with Skelton that Wilson's remarks were not "confined to the point of order at issue before this House," and gave her one last chance to address the substance of the point of order, that is, whether her amendment was relevant to the bill.
Without mentioning Iraq, Wilson then started talking about national security and stated that everyone remembered "where we were on the morning of 9/11."
"The reality is that this underlying bill deals with an issue of national security vital to this country, and the most important vital issue that this body must deal with today is to make sure we have the ability to listen to our enemies," Wilson continued, adding, "That is the first line of defense in the war on terror, and that is what we are willfully ignoring."
At which point the Speaker Pro Tem ruled that Wilson's amendment was not germane to the bill, citing as evidence that her motion to recommit would have sent the bill to the Intelligence Committee, rather than the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees that originally referred it to the House floor.
"One of the central tenets of the germaneness rule is that an amendment should be within the jurisdiction of the committees whose jurisdiction is reflected in the bill," added the Speaker Pro Tem.
Wilson then appealed the ruling of the chair, and Skelton moved to table (kill) her appeal. This vote was on Skelton's motion to table.
On an almost complete party-line vote, the House moved to table Wilson's appeal. Republicans were unanimous in their opposition, and only two Democrats defected and voted against the motion to table. Thus, by a vote of 224 to 197, the House tabled a motion to overrule the chair that an amendment to allow warrant-less electronic surveillance of persons in the United States was not sufficiently relevant to allow consideration of attaching to a bill to require combat troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by April 2008, and the bill moved toward a vote without the provision.
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