These votes were on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and determining which amendments could be offered to two separate bills – one that would allow the president to force Congress to vote individually on spending items seen as wasteful, and the other aimed at preventing members of Congress from using their access to inside information to make profitable trades in the stock market. The first of these two separate procedural votes was on a motion known as the “previous question" -- which effectively ends debate and sets up an immediate vote on the resolution setting a time limit for debate and amendments that can be offered. The second vote was on passage of the resolution.
Both bills that Republicans sought to bring to the floor enjoyed strong support from members of both political parties. However, disagreement erupted over Republicans’ attempt to prevent Democrats from offering more amendments to the bill that would prevent members of Congress from profiting from their access to inside information.
The bill, known as the STOCK Act, had originally included a requirement that employees of “political intelligence firms” register with the federal government as lobbyists. Political intelligence firms focus on gathering inside information about future government decisions or actions. The firms sell that information to stock traders or other investors.
Republicans were asking the House to consider a version of the STOCK Act that exempted political intelligence firms. Democrats objected to this omission and argued that they should be allowed to offer an amendment restoring the requirement.
“This is yet another example of this Congress' remarkable ability to take commonsense measures and churn them, through partisan posturing, into measures that not only put in jeopardy broad, bipartisan support from this body, but significantly weaken them and reduce the quality of the work product for the American people,” Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) said.
Republicans noted that the STOCK Act had first been introduced several years earlier – when Democrats controlled Congress – but had never been brought up for consideration. While the bill may not be exactly as they would like it, its arrival on the House floor would be a “step in the right direction,” Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) said.
“What this rule does is it provides the first opportunity that this Congress has had to vote on the STOCK Act,” Rep. Woodall said. “That's not a topic for the gnashing of teeth. That's a topic for the clapping of hands.”
The House agreed to the previous question motion by a vote of 240-184. Voting “yea” were 234 Republicans and 6 Democrats. Voting “nay” were 183 Democrats and 1 Republican. As a result, the House proceeded to a final vote on the resolution setting a time limit for debate and determining which amendments could be offered to the two bills.
The House then agreed by a vote of 238-175 to the resolution setting a time limit for debate and amendments that could be offered to the two separate bills. Voting “yea” were 228 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Voting “nay” were 174 Democrats, including a majority of progressives, and 1 Republican. As a result, the House proceeded to formal floor debate with limited opportunity to amend two bills – one that would allow the president to force Congress to vote individually on spending items seen as wasteful, and the other aimed at preventing members of Congress from using their access to inside information to make profitable trades in the stock market.