(H.R. 519) Final passage of legislation that would have required the United Nations to return $179 million to the United States. These funds had been overpaid into the United Nations (U.N.) Tax Equalization Fund, which reimburses UN employees for taxes paid on their salaries. (The Obama administration, however, had not requested that the overpaid funds be returned to the U.S. Treasury.)
This was a vote on a motion to suspend the rules and pass legislation that would have required the United Nations (U.N.) to return $179 million to the United States. These funds had been overpaid into the United Nations Tax Equalization Fund, which reimburses U.N. employees for taxes paid on their salaries. (The Obama administration, had not requested that the overpaid funds be returned to the U.S. Treasury, because the U.N. had begun to use the money to enhance Security at its New York headquarters.)
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. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) urged support for the bill: “The Tax Equalization Fund, TEF, is a roundabout mechanism premised on the U.N. belief that U.N. employee salaries and benefits should be tax free. The TEF has collected much more from the U.S. than it has paid out. The U.N.'s most recent biennial financial report states that the amount of the U.S.-paid surplus has grown to $179 million. The U.N. readily admits that it does owe the overpaid money to our U.S. taxpayers….Should the 179 million taxpayer dollars, which the U.N., again, admits it has no right to keep, be returned to the United States taxpayers?”
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) criticized the bill: “I am opposed to this bill for one simple reason: It's not a smart thing to do. It recklessly jeopardizes the security and safety of the people of New York City, and it does so for no reason. This is a national security issue…. Why do this? Only a radical, wild-eyed obsession with taking a pound of flesh out of the U.N., which at times deserves it, and to do so no matter what the cost to our national security. Where is the common sense in clawing back money that is going to be used for desperately needed, long overdue security upgrades that we have the money for anyway and have the responsibility to do anyway?”
The vote on this bill was 259-169. Voting “yea” were 236 Republicans and 23 Democrats. 167 Democrats and 2 Republicans voted “nay. While a majority of members 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 was defeated. As a result, the House rejected legislation that would have required the United Nations to return $179 million to the United States. Republican leaders, however, remained free to bring up the bill again under a different process requiring only a simple majority vote for passage.