This was a vote on a motion to recommit on the financial regulatory reform conference report (see explanation of conference reports below) that would have required a sweeping audit of the Federal Reserve. A motion to recommit with instructions is the minority's last chance to make substantive changes to a bill before a final up-or-down vote on the measure. If successful, the motion sends the legislation back to committee with instructions to amend the legislation as specified.
The House and Senate had passed different versions of financial regulatory reform legislation, which was intended to prevent the kind of financial crisis that had recently occurred in the fall of 2008. When the two Houses of Congress pass different versions of the same bill, a final version is typically negotiated in a conference between a limited number of members of both bodies, and a conference report is developed. Both Houses then must pass that report before it is sent to the president to be signed into law.
Under House rules, motions to recommit on conference reports cannot be debated. Thus, no members spoke in support of or opposition to the motion. Multiple news outlets, however, reported that Republicans would use the motion to recommit to offer a proposal providing for a sweeping audit of the Federal Reserve.
The conference report provided for a much more limited audit, limiting it to loans provided by the Fed during the financial crisis. While some Republicans (such as Rep. Ron Paul (D-TX) supported a broader audit, the motion to recommit was intended to put Democrats in a political bind. While the broader audit had robust support in the House, it had little support in the Senate. Thus, the motion to recommit could have jeopardized the conference report’s chances in the Senate. The Atlantic’s Chris Goode reported: “It's a last-ditch effort to alter/thwart Democratic financial reforms: House Republicans will force a floor vote today on Ron Paul's proposal for an audit of the Federal Reserve….The proposal is popular in the House, having gained 320 cosponsors, but probably wouldn't fare as well in the Senate: a related bill, introduced by Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, drew only two cosponsors.”
The House rejected the motion to recommit by a vote of 198-229. 175 Republicans and 23 Democrats voted “yea.” 229 Democrats – including a majority of progressives – voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected a motion to recommit that would have required a sweeping audit of the Federal Reserve.