This was a vote on a motion to table (kill) an appeal of a ruling that a resolution was out of order. The resolution had been offered by Rep. Price (R-GA). It would have committed the House “report out open rules for all general appropriations bills”, to “practice fiscal restraint and develop a clear plan for dealing with runaway Federal spending”, and to have “an open and transparent appropriations process . . . .”
The Price resolution was part of an ongoing campaign by Republicans against what they were claiming was a practice of the Democratic majority of limiting the number of amendments that could be offered on bills, especially appropriation bills. The resolution had been brought up under a procedure called a “question of the privilege of the House.” Price said that the issues he was putting forward related to “the integrity of (House) proceedings.” He argued that “the unprecedented actions that have been taken by the Democrats in charge have disenfranchised every single Member of this House. Appropriations bills have been, by tradition and previously by rule, brought to the floor under what’s called an ‘open rule,’ which means that every single Member of the House has an opportunity to affect the bill, to represent his or her constituents . . . When Members are not allowed to bring amendments to the floor on the spending of their constituents’ tax money, that disenfranchises those Members. That is an affront to the House.”
The Democrat majority had been arguing that limitations needed to be placed on the number of amendments that could be offered as a way of completing all the appropriation bills in a timely manner. During the past few years, there had been a number of occasions in which all the appropriation bills for a fiscal year were not completed before that year began. During the previous year, which was the last of the second Bush Administration, no appropriation bills were passed before the fiscal year began.
Rep. Simpson (R-ID) had previously commented on the Democratic timing argument. He has said that “in the name of expediency . . . 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 . . . 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 resolution had been ruled out of order based on a House precedent that a question of the privileges of the House may not be invoked to require a particular order in which the House should proceed, and that “directing the Committee on Rules to report a certain kind of resolution proposes a special order of business.”
The vote on whether to kill the appeal of the ruling was 240-179 on an almost straight party line basis. All two hundred and forty “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Three other Democrats joined one hundred and seventy-six Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, the appeal of the procedural ruling was not voted on, and the Republicans did not succeed in having unlimited amendments allowed for all funding bills the House considered.