H.R. 1388, the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act (the “GIVE Act”) provided federal funds for local community service and volunteer efforts. This was a vote on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for its debate. Those terms included a designation of which amendments could be offered during considering of the measure. The rule permitted only eleven specified amendments to be offered during deliberation of the legislation. Rep. Matsui (D-CA), described the GIVE Act as “bipartisan legislation . . . that strengthens our communities helps educate our future generations, teaches our youth to prepare for and respond to unthinkable tragedies and fosters the growth of respect and compassion throughout our entire society... The legislation emphasizes the critical role of service in meeting the national priorities of emergency and disaster preparedness . . . .”
Rep. Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who was responsible for setting the strategy on the bill for the Republicans, supported the substance of the legislation and said that he was ”pleased that the Committee on Education and Labor, worked in a bipartisan manner . . . to make the programs more effective and efficient, responding to State and local needs . . . .”
The GIVE ACT was being considered by the House just after press reports surfaced about multimillion bonuses going to executives of AIG. The federal government was spending hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out AIG, and news of these bonuses created protests in Congress. The Republicans wanted to act immediately and attach an amendment to The GIVE Act, since it was the pending matter in the House, which would require the Treasury Department to implement a plan to recoup the bonuses and to monitor future bonuses. The rule being considered allowed for only eleven specified amendments to be offered to the GIVE Act, none of which related to AIG bonuses.
The Democrats wanted to pass The GIVE Act without any AIG-related amendment, and announced a meeting for later in the day to develop a legislative response to the AIG bonus issue. Rep. Matsui had outlined the Democratic position when she said “both sides of this aisle are absolutely outraged about what happened (at AIG).And we will be taking action immediately. But let's get the GIVE Act through. Let's do the rule on this and move forward (after that to deal with the AIG bonus issue).” Rep. LaTourette-(R-OH). reflected the position of the Republicans when he said he would vote “no” even though “I don't have any big problem with the rule, (because) it is my understanding that Mr. Diaz-Balart will, if it is defeated, offer an amendment to the rule that will address (the AIG bonus issue) . . . .”
Under House procedures, before a bill can be considered, the House must first approve a resolution containing the “rule” for that bill. The rule passed by a vote of 248-172 along almost straight party lines. Two hundred and forty-seven Democrats and one Republican voted “aye”. Two other Democrats joined one hundred and seventy Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, the rule was approved; the House moved to debate the GIVE Act and the amendment relating to AIG bonuses was prevented from being offered to that bill.