This was a vote on a motion to end debate (known as a “cloture motion”) on a motion to bring up (known as a “motion to proceed”) legislation that would have repealed a tax law withholding 3% of the government’s payments to contractors and vendors.
In a statement released following this vote, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) said: “Tonight the American people lost and partisan politics won. The 3 percent withholding repeal is a noncontroversial and bipartisan effort, but rather than bring the Senate together to pass this pro-jobs bill, the Majority Leader led the charge to defeat it. A reasonable bill was sacrificed tonight to score some political points. In contrast, the Senate was asked to vote on a bill that would increase spending and pay for it with higher taxes—an approach that has already been rejected by Congress. This is the sort of political theater voters are fed up with. We need to focus on progress over partisanship or else our economic problems will only grow worse."
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) opposed the bill: “…We all agree that the contractors who contract with the Federal Government should pay their taxes. I don't think there is any dispute on that. There is also agreement that we should not overburden small businesses which are paying their taxes. The bill before us would repeal the provisions scheduled to go into effect in 2013 to require a withholding of 3 percent of payments from the U.S. Treasury to the government contractors. There are two flaws in this. One, it lets all government contractors off the hook, even those who refuse to pay taxes. Those contractors would not be subject to the mechanism to make sure they pay. Second, this is paid for by rescinding $30 billion of appropriated funds, which is, frankly, contrary to the agreement reached with the President on the deficit reduction.”
The vote on this cloture motion was 57-43. All 47 Republicans and 10 Democrats voted “yea.” 43 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—voted “nay.” While a majority of senators voted in favor of cloture, a 60-vote majority is required for passage of a cloture motion. Thus, the cloture motion failed. As a result, the Senate effectively killed legislation that would have repealed a tax law withholding 3% of the government’s payments to contractors and vendors.