H.R. 3619 authorized approximately $10 billion in fiscal year 2010 funding for The Coast Guard. It increased the number of military personnel in the Coast Guard by 1,500 to a total of 47,000, and increased the allowable number of officers to 6,700. The legislation also included provisions designed to deal with demonstrated problems in the acquisition of equipment by The Coast Guard.
As with most other legislation the House considers, it first had to approve a resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debating the bill. These rules had become contentious matters. The Republican minority had been complaining during the congressional session that the Democratic majority was placing restrictions on many of these rules that significantly curtailed the ability of Members to offer amendments. The rule for H.R. 3619 limited the amendments that could be offered to only certain designated ones. This was a vote on approving the rule.
Rep. Matsui (D-CA) was leading the effort in support of the rule. She said that H.R. 3619 “will strengthen our nation's Coast Guard by making important investments and key changes now, the benefits of which we will see for years to come.”
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) was leading the Republican minority on the debate of the rule. He said: “(W)hile I support this important underlying legislation, I oppose the rule by which it is being brought to the floor. He asserted that his opposition was based on the restrictions the rule placed on the number of amendments that could be offered. Diaz-Balart argued that it is “inappropriate to limit the procedural rights of the members of this House” by restricting their ability to offer amendments. He also said that this was particularly the case with the Coast Guard authorization “that enjoys such widespread and bipartisan support . . . .” He added that, with such popular legislation, members should not “have to go and beg the Rules Committee for authorization to have their amendments debated.”
Diaz-Balart noted that the last time that a Coast Guard authorization bill was enacted into law, the Republican majority at the time supported a rule that allowed far more amendments to be offered. He concluded his remarks by claiming that this was “another example of how the current (Democratic) majority restricts, unnecessarily and unfortunately, the procedural rights of all members of this body . . . . .”
Chairwoman Slaughter (D-NY) and the Democratic members of the Rules Committee took the position that they weigh many factors when deciding which amendments to allow, including whether they relate directly to the purpose of the bill, whether they would not add to the deficit, and whether they are “logical”. They also claimed that the Republican minority did have numerous opportunities to present its ideas while the committee that developed H.R. 3619 was engaged in its deliberations.
The resolution was approved by a vote of 213-192. All Two hundred and thirteen “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Twenty-seven other Democrats joined all one hundred and sixty-five Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, the House was able to begin formal debate of the bill authorizing fiscal year 2010 funding for The Coast Guard.