This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Stearns (R-FL) which would have reduced the total amount in H.R. 3288, the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Transportation by 25%.
Stearns argued that “with the economy contracting and unemployment rising, it's not responsible to drastically increase spending . . . .” He pointed to the additional amounts provided to HUD and the Transportation Department in the recently-passed economic stimulus bill, and claimed that the total amount provided for the two departments would effectively remain at the fiscal year 2009 level “if the stimulus act funding is taken into account, even with the 25 percent reduction that I am proposing . . . .”
Stearns acknowledged that there are “a lot of good programs in this bill that I strongly support . . . .” He then said that “funding for programs within this bill will have increased 146 percent since the Democrats took over in the year 2007. This level of spending is simply unsustainable in the light of the nation's growing deficits and the debt.” He also argued that additional spending “at a time when we're drowning in debt and experiencing the worst economic crisis in decades is simply unwise.”
He referenced a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office warning “that excessive spending proposed by this administration and the Democrat leadership in Congress such as contained in this bill . . . will (double) the national debt in 5 years. So we must hold . . . attempt to hold the line on spending and make sound budget choices . . . .” that are sustainable and that do not rely on continued deficits and borrowing. He then agreed that “there's plenty of blame to go around, but here at this point we have an opportunity to stand up.”
Rep. Olver (D-MA), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed H.R. 3288, led the opposition to what he described as a “slash and burn” amendment. Olver referenced previous arguments he had made to similar amendments in which he said that the amendments contained “ no direction as to how one might do it,” in which he raised the problem of not being able to determine the kinds of impacts they would have.
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 152-279. One hundred and forty-seven Republicans and five Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and fifty-three Democrats and twenty-six Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, no reduction was made in H.R. 3288 providing the 2010 fiscal year funding for the HUD and the Department of Transportation.