What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Insuring Government Has Adequate Financing to Function : HR 2669. (Student loans reconciliation) Procedural question on whether to put the Senate on record as endorsing providing tax credits for education, as long as they do not increase the deficit/On the motion (2007 senate Roll Call 264)
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HR 2669. (Student loans reconciliation) Procedural question on whether to put the Senate on record as endorsing providing tax credits for education, as long as they do not increase the deficit/On the motion
senate Roll Call 264     Jul 19, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

This vote was part of a disagreement between Chuck Schumer, D-N..Y., and John Sununu, R-N.H., related to an attempt by Sununu to extend certain expiring tax credits. Specifically, this vote was on whether to allow an amendment by Schumer that would have put the Senate on record as endorsing providing tax credits for education, as long as they were paid for by new revenues or cuts in spending in other places. Schumer attempted to tack this amendment onto a pending amendment Sununu had offered earlier in the day. The amendment battle occurred as part of a bill that would overhaul student loans.

Sununu's amendment, which Schumer sought to modify, would have made permanent the education tax breaks enacted as part of President Bush's 2001 package of tax cuts.

After Sununu offered his amendmenet, Schumer tried to tack on an amendment of his own that would have put the Senate on record as endorsing the view that Congress should provide tax relief for families "in order to fully offset the costs and forcing taxpayers to pay substantially more interest to foreign creditors; and that such relief should be provided on an appropriate legislative vehicle that won't jeopardize legislation providing greater access and affordability to higher education for millions of students."

"The trouble with this amendment, of course, is not only is it not paid for, but if it were to be added to this bill, it would rob from Peter to give to Paul because it would undo all of the good things in the underlying bill," Schumer said. "So I will be offering a second-degree amendment that says we certainly agree with increasing tuition deductibility but not at the expense of what [we] are trying to do."

Sununu countered that Schumer's amendment is a "sense of the Senate that we agree with all these tax provisions. But we don't quite agree enough to actually write them into law. I think that is a little disappointing and disingenuous." Sununu then used a procedural motion to attempt to kill Schumer's amendment on the grounds that it is not related (or "germane") enough to the underlying student loan bill.

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. One of these Senate rules requires that amendments be related to the subject of the bill itself. When Sununu moved to have the amendment defeated on the grounds that it was not "germane" enough to the underlying bill, Schumer called a vote on waiving that Senate rule for his amendment, which is what this vote was on.

By a vote of 48-48, the Senate rejected Schumer's request to waive its rules and allow his amendment to go forward. Though the vote was tied, this particular type of procedural motion requires a three-fifths majority of the Senate (60 votes) in order to consider the matter approved. The vote was split entirely along partisan lines, with every Republican present voting against the motion to waive the rules and allow Schumer's amendment to go forward, and every Democrat present voting for the waiver motion. Thus, the waiver motion was defeated, and as a result Schumer's amendment that would have put the Senate on record as endorsing education tax credits only in certain circumstances was killed.

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