This was a vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and determining which amendments could be offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for U.S. intelligence agencies.
The intelligence budget—which is classified—includes funding for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) urged support for the resolution and the underlying bill: “The bill we are discussing today authorizes the intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States government for fiscal year 2011 in order to enhance the national security of the United States, to support and assist the armed forces of the United States, and to support the president of the United States in the execution of the foreign policy of the United States of America. This bill is a vital tool for congressional oversight of the classified activities of the intelligence community, and it is critical to ensuring that our intelligence agencies have the resources and authorities they need to accomplish this important work on behalf of keeping America free.”
While the vast majority of Democrats supported the underlying bill, they opposed this resolution (often referred to as a “rule”) because it limited the number of amendments that could be offered to intelligence bill. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) said: “I urge a `no' vote on the rule because… this is not an open rule [an “open rule” allows for unlimited amendments]…if it were an open rule, then all members would be able to offer an amendment to the bill.”
Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) noted that the resolution allowed nine amendments, and argued that Republicans were providing a more open amendment process than had been in place when the Democrats controlled the House: “We have nine amendments that are going to be considered under this rule and in this chamber tomorrow…. that is a direct change from the history that has been demonstrated here for years prior to us coming here. It is time that we on this side of the aisle recognize that we are going to listen to the American people.”
The House agreed to this resolution by a vote of 251-133. Voting “yea” were 230 Republicans and 21 Democrats. 133 Democrats, including a majority of progressives, voted “nay.” As a result, the House proceeded to formal floor debate on legislation authorizing annual funding for U.S. intelligence agencies.