(H. Res, 609) Legislation providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of Agriculture, rural development, and the Food and Drug Administration - - on a procedural vote to decide whether the House should reconsider its previous decision to move to an immediate vote on the resolution setting the terms for debating the bill
This was one of a series of votes resulting from procedural tactics of the Republican minority to protest what it said was the unfair limitation that the Democratic majority was placing on the number of amendments that could be offered to spending bills. This vote was formally on the motion to reconsider the previous decision to bring to an immediate vote the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debating H.R.2997.
The Republican minority had been expressing its strong opposition to what it was claiming were the unfair limitations that the Democratic majority had been including in rules on this and other spending bills. To protest these restrictions, the Republicans had been making a series of procedural motions to force votes that delayed the process of considering these bills. This was one of those motions.
Rep. Foxx (R-NC), a Member of the House Rules Committee, had been among the leading voices arguing against the limitations that the Democratic majority was placing on the number of amendments that could be offered to a series of bills, especially spending bills. She had said: “(T)hroughout this appropriations season, the Democrat majority has taken unprecedented steps to silence both the minority and their own Democrat colleagues by offering all appropriations bills under (very restrictive) rules. This has consistently eliminated the ability of Members to speak up for how their constituents believe their money should be spent . . . the Democrat majority has (surpassed) . . . the number of restrictive rules ever offered during appropriations season in the House of Representatives.”
Rep. Kingston (R-GA) said he was opposing the rule “simply because it's a closed rule. You know, we come here, 435 Members representing 300 million people all across the United States of America with different ideas, and we are about to vote on a $123.8 billion bill in which these 435 Members of Congress have different ideas . . . Now, you know the expression, you're dressed up with no place to go. That's what it's like . . . and when you get to the dance, you find out you're not even allowed to dance.”
He went on to say that, under the terms of the rule “the minority (Republican) Members really can't participate today. . . (W)e submitted 90 amendments--we, Democrats and Republicans--in an effort to improve this bill, and of those, I believe 12 have been agreed upon. And of those, four are noncontroversial and five of them are a little bit superficial, if not routine.”
The Democratic majority took the position that a limitation on the number of amendments, and the resulting limitation on the length of debate, was needed in all the 2010 fiscal year spending bills. They argued this limitation was needed in order to meet the goal of enacting all the spending bills by the beginning of that fiscal year. In recent years, many spending bills had not been signed into law before the beginning of the fiscal year to which they applied.
In addition, Rep. DeLauro (D-CT), who chairs the subcommittee that developed the legislation, claimed: “(W)e have had an open process throughout the subcommittee and committee markups . . . Clearly, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have had an opportunity to speak their minds on these issues and have their amendments considered (during the subcommittee and Appropriations Committee drafting sessions).”
The motion to reconsider the previous decision was defeated on a vote of 175-251. One hundred and sixty-eight Republicans and seven Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and forty-two Democrats and nine Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the House was able to move on to the resolution setting the terms for debating the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of Agriculture, rural development, and the Food and Drug Administration.