This was a vote to table (kill) the appeal of the ruling of the Speaker of the House that a motion was out of order. The motion that had been ruled out of order would have sent a bill the House was considering back to committee with instructions to add language in favor of permitting unlimited amendments to be offered to all legislation. The ruling was actually made by a Democratic Member who was sitting in the chair in the place of House Speaker Pelosi (D-CA). The Republicans appealed the ruling.
The Republican minority had been complaining that the Democratic majority had been unfairly limiting the number of amendments that could be offered to a series of federal government appropriation bills. To highlight their objections, the Republicans had engaged in a number of procedural tactics. One of those tactics was this motion by Rep. Simpson (R-ID) that had been ruled out of order.
The specific language of the Simpson motion was to add language to the bill the House was considering noting that it was the sense of the House that it should adhere to previous statements in favor of permitting unlimited amendments, which were made by Appropriations Committee Chairman Obey (D-WI). Those statements were made by Obey when he was in the minority.
\Rep. Simpson had moved to add that additional language to a bill relating to the reauthorization of small business innovation research and technology transfer programs. His motion was ruled out of order based on the House regulation prohibiting non-germane language from being offered to a pending bill. This language was deemed to be non-germane to the subject of small business research and technology.
Simpson said “we know the damage that (limiting amendments) does to this Institution. We have done it in the name of expediency . . . instead, what we have done is cut Members out not being able to offer amendments on the floor, not only minority Members but majority Members too. . Members have the right and the ability to represent their constituents . . . That means offering amendments to appropriation bills. Our history has been that appropriation bills come to the floor under an open rule so that Members have the right to offer amendments. Is it frustrating? Yes. Does it take a lot of time? Yes. Are there some amendments that we wish wouldn't be offered? Sure. But that is our job. Our job is to come here and debate issues, not expediency, trying to get them done at a specific time. By doing that, what we do is cut off Members' ability to represent their constituents on this floor.”
The appeal of the ruling was killed by a vote of 246-181. Two hundred and forty-four Democrats and two Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred and seventy-five Republicans and six Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the ruling that the motion was out of order prevailed, and the House effectively decided not to adopt language favoring the offering of an unlimited number of amendments to all bills.