This was one of a series of votes generated by procedural moves of the Republican minority to protest the decision of the Democratic majority to limit the number of amendments that could be offered to a series of spending bills the House was debating. Among those spending bills were one for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, and another for the Department of Homeland Security.
Rep. Rogers (R-KY) articulated the position of the Republicans. He said: “Our constituents are entitled to have us speak for them. That is the reason that they selected us. And yet now we are being denied the opportunity to register the thoughts and opinions of (our) constituents . . . This is a muzzle of the minority. You are muzzling the people that we represent.
The Democratic majority was taking the position that the time for debating the fiscal year 2010 spending bills needed to be limited to insure that the bills were all signed into law before September 30, 2009, the beginning of the 2010 fiscal year. In recent years, most spending bills had not been signed into law before the beginning of the fiscal years they covered.
Technically, this was a procedural vote on a motion to reconsider its previous decision to agree to the resolution setting the terms for debating the bill providing funds for the Department of Homeland Security for the 2010 fiscal year.
It is routine practice in the House, after any vote, for the Speaker to declare, “without objection, the motion to reconsider (the vote) is laid upon the table” (or killed). According to the House Floor Procedural Manual, if no objection is raised to killing the motion to reconsider the previous vote, this eliminates the possibility that another vote can take place on the same matter. The Manual also notes that objection to reconsider the previous vote is often raised, and a motion is made to reconsider the previous vote, “when Members (usually minority Members) determine there is a need to slow down the legislative process.” That is what occurred here.
The motion was defeated by a vote of 169-251. One hundred sixty-five Republicans and four Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and forty-three Democrats and eight Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the previous vote was not reconsidered, and the House was able to begin debating the bill providing funds for the Department of Homeland Security for the 2010 fiscal year. An indirect result was that the legislative process was delayed for a few minutes.