What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Curbing Presidential Power : S. 1. (Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007)/Motion to invoke cloture, and thus limit debate and prohibit further amendment and bring to a final vote (2007 senate Roll Call 16)
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S. 1. (Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007)/Motion to invoke cloture, and thus limit debate and prohibit further amendment and bring to a final vote
senate Roll Call 16     Jan 17, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

This vote was nominally about legislation to overhaul Congressional lobbying rules as well as ethics rules for Senators and their staffs, but the issue at the forefront was whether Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) would get a vote on his proposal to give the president authority to veto individual sections of legislation without rejecting the whole bill.

The bill to which Gregg was attempting to amend would overhaul Congressional lobbying and ethics rules for Senators and their staffs, prohibiting the acceptance of gifts and free meals, extending the time period before former Senators can become lobbyists and outlawing lobbyist-funded travel. Furthermore, the bill would restrict the practice known as earmarking, whereby individual lawmakers get provisions tucked in spending bills that benefit only a particular locale, institution, industry or corporation.

The rationale for attaching Gregg's amendment to this legislation was that the president could sift out these extraneous provisions - which cost the taxpayer billions of dollars annually and only benefit narrow interests -- with his veto pen without compromising the whole bill. This line-item veto, as it is known, was rejected by the Supreme Court in the 1990s as unconstitutional but many Republicans think they may have found a way to adhere to the court's decision while still giving the president the power to reject one provision of legislation while signing the rest into law.

Republicans refused to move forward with the lobbying and ethics legislation without an up-or-down vote on Gregg's amendment, setting off a two-day impasse. This vote was Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) attempt to end the stalemate and bring the lobbying reform bill to a vote without giving Gregg's amendment a vote. Because the underlying bill included changes to Senate rules, two-thirds of those present and voting - 65 in this case - were required to invoke cloture, and thus limit debate, prevent further amendment and move to an up-or-down vote on the lobbying legislation.

Reid said that supporting cloture was a vote for "doing away with the culture of corruption we have here in Washington. This is good legislation. It is the most significant reform since Watergate by many degrees."

On the other side, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the Republicans would vote against cloture "to guarantee the opportunity to offer additional amendments," including Gregg's.

In the end, the cloture motion failed on a vote of 51-46. Two Republicans - Norm Coleman (Minn.) and Gordon Smith (Ore.) - sided with Democrats in voting to support cloture. Democrats voted unanimously to end debate, except for Reid, who voted against his own motion to preserve his right to press for a revote in a couple of days. (Only Senators who vote with the majority can request what's known as a motion for reconsideration.) The motion failed to achieve the two-thirds majority needed for passage, and so the impasse over the legislation continued.

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