This was a vote on a motion to suspend the rules and pass a resolution supporting the goals of "National Public Works Week," which acknowledges the contributions of infrastructure projects to the quality of life in the U.S. In 2010, National Public Works Week will be observed May 16 through 22.
The majority party in the House schedules bills for floor debate under this procedure known as "suspension of the rules" if the leadership deems them to be non-controversial. Motions to suspend the rules limit time allowed for debate, and prohibit members from offering amendments. A two-thirds vote is required to approve the motion and pass a bill, rather than the usual majority.
Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) urged support for the resolution: "This year, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of National Public Works Week. During the Great Depression, public works rose to prominence as a means to help stabilize our Nation by putting people to work to create a national infrastructure that benefited all Americans. Once again, our country faces similar challenges and our public works will help our nation regain its footing."
No members spoke in opposition to the resolution during floor debate on the measure. Republicans, however, unanimously voted against the measure because it contained a number of references to jobs created by the "American Reinvestment and Recovery Act" -- the economic stimulus legislation signed into law by President Obama in February 2009 that was intended to prevent an economic catastrophe. Every House Republican voted against that bill. Thus, Republicans objected to praising the stimulus measure.
Following the vote, Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN) expressed shock and outrage that all Republicans voted against the resolution: "I rise to express my astonishment and disappointment that the entire Republican Conference voted against H. Res. 1125 for the observance of National Public Works Week….There were three [references]…to the investment of funds under the Recovery Act. Those are figures drawn from information reported to our committee by the states and reported every 30 days by this committee and distributed to every Member of this House. For some reason, the other side of the aisle chose to vote against that. They didn't like that reference in this resolution."
The House rejected the motion to suspend the rules and pass the resolution by a vote of 249-172. While a majority of members (249) voted "yea," a two-thirds majority vote is required for passage under motions to suspend the rules. Since the motion did not receive a two-thirds majority vote, the National Public Works Week resolution was voted down. 249 Democrats voted "yea." 171 Republicans and 1 Democrat voted "nay." As a result, the House rejected a resolution expressing support for the goals of "National Public Works Week.