What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : Farmers : HR 1591. (Fiscal 2007 supplemental appropriations bill). Procedural question on whether to include funding for tree growers/On the question of germaneness (2007 senate Roll Call 125)
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HR 1591. (Fiscal 2007 supplemental appropriations bill). Procedural question on whether to include funding for tree growers/On the question of germaneness
senate Roll Call 125     Mar 29, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote occurred on a procedural question raised by Jim DeMint, R-S.C.. DeMint's motion was against a portion of the underlying bill that he felt was unrelated to the bill's main purpose. In some cases, when portions of a bill violate certain congressional rules, the bill can be quickly defeated with these procedural motions unless the Senate votes to waive the rule in question. In this instance, DeMint argued that a section that would allocate $40 million in disaster-related assistance for tree growers (including Christmas trees and other ornamental trees) violated the rule against including policy provisions in a bill that is intended only to spend money.

"This section of the bill deals with the tree assistance program. It has no business being in a war supplemental," DeMint said.

The amendment was offered to the fiscal 2007 supplemental appropriations bill. These types of bills are funding measures intended to deal with emergencies or unforeseen needs that come up after Congress has already outlined its spending priorities for the year. The underlying bill would dole out $124.2 billion in additional funding, over and above what Congress had already enacted earlier in the year, to cover continued military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also contains some domestic initiatives, such as emergency funding for hurricane recovery.

This procedural motion was part of a campaign waged by DeMint against pet projects (often called "earmarks") in the bill. (Though the bill's purpose is to allocate money for emergencies, because it is considered "must-pass" legislation, it is common for unrelated items, including earmarks, to hitch a ride.)

In response to DeMint's motion, the Senate called a vote on whether or not to declare the $40 million in aid for trees he sought to delete "germane" to the underlying bill ("germaneness" simply means whether something is related to the bill's main purpose). If the Senate then decides that the provision is germane, it would have the effect of nullifying DeMint's procedural move.

By a vote of 57-41, the Senate voted that the section was indeed germane to the bill, and as a result DeMint's procedural motion failed. Democrats were united in declaring the provision germane. The majority of Republicans voted with DeMint, though seven did not. Thus, the attempt to strike disaster aid for tree growers was defeated, and the bill went forward with that money intact.

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