(H.R. 3081) On the Pastor of Arizona amendment adding $45 million to the Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and Infrastructure Technologies Program, reducing the administrative budget for the Department of Energy by $30 million, and making a number of other funding changes in the fiscal year 2010 energy and water development funding bill
This was a vote on am amendment offered by Rep. Pastor (D-AZ) to the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for energy and water development programs. The amendment made a number of changes among categories to this $33.3 billion measure. The largest change added $45 million to the Hydrogen, Fuel Cells, and Infrastructure Technologies Program, $30 million of which was offset by a reduction in Departmental of Energy administration costs and $15 million of which was offset by a reduction in the Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability program. Rep. Pastor, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee that developed H.R. 3081, was managing the bill on the House floor. It is not uncommon for a bill manager to offer an amendment that makes a number of changes in a bill he or she is managing.
Rep. Frelinghuysen, the Ranking Republican on the subcommittee that developed H.R.3081 and a supporter of the legislation as written, opposed the amendment. He first said “I don't have any real problem with the content of (the) amendment. However, he then said he opposed it because :“(N)one of the content of this chairman's amendment was discussed with the minority, and none of the changes were made or suggested by the minority. If the changes are important, then I think we should be able to discuss them. Otherwise, I fear it is only a matter of time before the majority will include everything they can in this sort of en masse amendment. This will be bad for the institution and I think bad for the American people.” Pastor responded by apologizing and saying it was his understanding that the amendment had been shown to Frelinghuysen for his approval. Pastor also said he was particularly apologetic “because I think it's important that this bill, along with the manager's amendment, continue to be bipartisan.”
The question of offering amendments on the House floor to spending bills had become rather controversial. During the debate on H.R. 3081 and other spending bills, the Republican minority had objected to the limitations that the Democratic majority had been placing on the number of amendments that could be offered.
Rep. Flake (R-AZ), had been among the leaders of the Republicans who had been opposing the limitation on amendments. He had argued that “the majority simply doesn't want to take votes on these amendments. For the first time in years, in decades, we are shutting down an appropriations process, and saying, you can't offer the amendments you want. You only offer the amendments we want. Now, that is simply wrong . . . . He referred to the procedure as “basically, martial law in terms of appropriations bills . . . and I just want to register an objection to that because we ought to have the freedom to offer the amendments that we have offered like we've been able to do for decades in this House.”
The rationale that Democrats had been expressing for the series of rules limiting amendments on spending bills was that that the House needed to adhere to its schedule of completing those bills in a timely manner. In recent years, Congress had been well behind schedule in completing many spending bills, and had sometimes failed to pass all of them before the beginning of the fiscal year they covered.
The amendment passed by a vote of 261-172. Two hundred and thirty-six Democrats and twenty-five Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred and fifty-two Republicans and twenty Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, a number of changes of $45 million or less were made among categories in the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funds for energy and water development.