The House and Senate had passed differing versions of H.R. 3183, the bill providing $35.5 billion in fiscal year 2010 funding for energy and water programs. As is usual procedure in such situations, a conference was held between representatives of the two bodies to develop a final version of the bill. This was a vote on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for House debate of the final version that was negotiated in the conference. The resolution restricted procedural objections, such as points of order, that ordinarily could be raised against spending bills such as this one.
Rep. Matsui (D-CA) was leading the support for the rule. She said that H.R. 3183, for which the rule set the terms for debate, will “keep communities safe from flooding, invest in clean energy and renewable technologies, fight nuclear proliferation, and create jobs through infrastructure development.” Matsui noted that the conference agreement provided $27 billion for the Department of Energy “to help fund clean energy development and perform basic scientific research.” She also noted that the bill “takes a responsible approach toward nuclear energy by providing $700 million in that area . . . .”
Matsui concluded her remarks by pointing to the funds in the legislation for infrastructure, saying as “we rebuild our infrastructure, we rebuild our economy. The infrastructure funding in this conference report before us today will continue this pattern of creating jobs.”
Members of the Republican minority repeated the complaint it had been making about what they said was the unfair practice of limiting the number of amendments and the points of order that could be offered or raised on spending bills such as H.R. 3183. The Democratic majority had been responding to those complaints by asserting that the limitations were required in order to meet the goal of passing spending bills before the beginning of the 2010 fiscal year. In recent years, many spending bills had not been passed before the beginning of the fiscal year to which they applied.
Rep Sessions (R-TX) argued that the Democratic majority “for the first time in history shut down the appropriation process by placing extremely restrictive rules on every single appropriation bill that has come to the floor of the House this year . . . There are hundreds of good amendments . . . by all of my colleagues which were rejected in this unprecedented fashion. Now that this House has finished all the appropriation bills, you would think that my friends on the other side of the aisle would allow for an appropriate time and an appropriate process for consideration of the conference reports . . . for Members to be heard from and for us to go back to a process which this House was used to in its precedents for so many years.”
Regarding the substance of the funding bill, Sessions said “the increase in spending over last year's level and destructive initiatives that the Democrat majority continues to pursue . . . have only killed jobs and led to record deficits . . . the only thing up to now that (the Democrats) really have accomplished is record deficits, record spending and record unemployment numbers all across America. The fiscal year 2010 energy and water appropriation conference report . . . is . . . above last year's level, and this is in addition to the $58.7 billion provided in (the previously-passed legislation designed to deal with the economic downturn in the economy) . . . this bill does not represent any commitment to fiscal sustainability.”
The resolution passed by a vote of 239-181. All 234 “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. One hundred and sixty-nine Republicans and twelve Democrats voted “nay”. As a result the House was able to begin formal debate on the final version of the fiscal year 2010 energy and water development funding bill that was negotiated between the House and Senate.