This was a vote on a motion to suspend the rules and pass legislation that would have required federal government agencies to establish performance standards intended to help assess and improve the efficiency of those agencies. The bill also provided for a training program for employees who would be charged with evaluating the merits and efficacy of government programs.
Motions to suspend the rules limit time allowed for debate, and prohibit members from offering amendments. A two-thirds majority vote is required to approve the motion and pass a bill, rather than the usual majority.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) urged support for the bill: “The concept is not complicated. We can cut down on the debt by cutting down on waste. With greater government efficiency, we can produce cost savings for every American taxpayer. This bill will shine light on ineffective federal programs to root out wasteful spending. Federal agencies are supposed to clearly identify ambitious, high-priority goals and assess their performance and effectiveness to evaluate its direct impact on the American people and the government. This will provide the needed information to make informed budgetary decisions.”
Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA) urged opposition to the bill, arguing that the president already had the authority to establish such performance standards, and that it was therefore wasteful to spend millions of taxpayers’ dollars on a program to implement those standards: “This is not a good bill….this bill is simply a series of mandates that codifies [enters into law] a management style that needs no legislation. This legislation does not create something that the president cannot and is not already doing. We, in Congress, want goal-setting….As the bill is written today, basically, an agency sets its own goals, announces its own goals… This does not create a real requirement for performance-based program analysis….If we are going to spend even $75 million on new mandates, we have a standard that has to be a standard of excellence, a standard that truly makes improvements, and a standard that in fact does not simply allow the president to do what he already has the power to do….”
While a majority of members (212) voted in favor of this bill, a two-thirds majority vote is required for passage under suspension of the rules. Since this bill did not receive a two-thirds majority vote, the measure failed. The vote on the bill was 212-131. Voting “yea” were 189 Democrats and 23 Republicans. 127 Republicans and 4 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected legislation that would have required federal government agencies to establish performance standards intended to help assess and improve the efficiency of those agencies.