This was on a motion that the House immediately vote on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for considering the legislation providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Departments of Defense and Commerce, the Justice Department and various other government departments and agencies. Among the terms of the rule was one that prevented Members from offering any amendments to the legislation.
Rep. Pingree (D-ME) was leading the effort on behalf of the rule and the motion to bring it to an immediate vote. Her arguments in support of both focused on the legislation for which the rule set the terms for debate. She first said that the legislation provides “over $363 billion towards protecting our troops abroad and taking better care of their families at home.” She then enumerated some of the programs and benefits which the funding would provide. These included a 3.4% pay increase for all service members, more than $29 billion for what Pingree called “top-of-the-line medical care” for injured soldiers, increases for the wounded, the ill and injured warrior programs, and more than $472 million for programs designed to prevent child abuse and domestic violence.
Pingree argued that the provisions of the measure related to the military were connected to domestic programs. She said: “Our economic security and our national security are inextricably linked, and our economic security is still in dire straits.” Pingree went on to say that the ongoing economic crisis has forced American families to decide between “cutbacks on food or cutbacks on health care.” She added that “there are millions of Americans who want to get back to work, but they need us to lend the same helping hand that we gave to Wall Street in its time of need (and) the rule before us today allows for the consideration of the (legislation) which will move us down that road.”
Rep. Foxx (R-NC) was leading the opposition to the rule and to the motion to bring it to an immediate vote. She first acknowledged that the bill for which the rule would set the terms of debate “contains funding for several important and necessary initiatives . . . .” However, Foxx went on to note her “disappointment in the overall funding levels . . . .” Specifically, she noted that the bill increases overall defense spending by “roughly” 4.5%, which “is not comparable to nondefense appropriations bills we have voted on this year, which average a 12 percent increase in funding levels.”
Foxx claimed that this difference “represent the wrong priorities of the Democrats, who are in charge of the Congress, and of the Obama administration. Increasing spending for domestic priorities by double digits while, in comparison, shortchanging national defense represents a dangerous, wrongheaded policy that does not rightly prioritize the security of our nation.”
Foxx also objected to the fact that the legislation was originally intended only to provide defense spending, but that the Democratic majority had “put into it things that are not related . . . .” She claimed that it contained a “variety of additional legislation that has been cobbled together without committee consideration.” Foxx then noted her objection to the portion of the rule that did not permit amendments to be offered to the bill and said that the Democratic majority had “gone to great lengths to shut down debate. Therefore, I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no’ on the rule so the bill can be returned to the committee and can be brought back under regular order.”
The motion to move to an immediate vote on the rule passed by a vote of 235-193. All Two hundred and thirty-five “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Eighteen other Democrats joined all one hundred and seventy-five Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, the House moved to an immediate vote on the rule setting the term for debating legislation providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Departments of Defense and Commerce, the Justice Department and various other government operations.