This vote was on whether to preserve an amendment by Patty Murray, D-Wash., that would have provided an additional $25 billion for infrastructure projects as part of a massive economic stimulus bill. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., tried to defeat the amendment with a parliamentary maneuver because of the way Murray’s amendment classifies its spending. Her amendment classifies the $25 billion as emergency spending, which does not count against as increasing the deficit; Inhofe argued that the spending should not properly be considered emergency spending. Murray then moved that the emergency spending rule be waived for her amendment, which is what this vote was on.
Murray said her amendment would boost investment in America’s roads, bridges and transit network and create 650,000 American jobs in a time when they are sorely needed.
“Our economy needs a jolt. We have to create jobs, and we have to get commerce going again. I believe one of the best ways we can do that and bring stability to communities is by investing in construction projects throughout the entire country. Investing in construction projects is the tried and true way to put people back to work. My amendment not only supports over 650,000 jobs, it supports the kind of good-paying jobs we desperately need to help families put meals on the table or send their kids to school or save a little money for retirement,” Murray said.
Inhofe said he agrees with the idea of Murray’s amendment in that he supports infrastructure spending. However, he said he dislikes the amendment because it does not find new revenue or make other cuts to offset its spending levels, thus increasing the deficit. He also said the point of the stimulus bill is to fund programs that will create jobs immediately, which Murray’s amendment would not do.
“I have one problem with the Murray bill. First, I agree that we need to have a larger percentage of the money going into roads and highways. But I think we also need a little bit of truth in advertising. If we are going to call this package a stimulus bill, then we need to direct the resources to the programs that have demonstrated the ability to create jobs immediately. However, merely adding the total number, as this amendment does, without giving priority to programs that are truly stimulative is perhaps not all that responsible,” Inhofe said.
By a vote of 58-39, the motion was rejected. Though more voted yes than no, this particular type of vote requires 60 votes in order to be considered passed. All but one Democrat present voted for the motion. All but two Republicans present voted against the motion. The end result is that the motion to waive the rules failed, Murray’s amendment was defeated with a parliamentary maneuver, and the economic stimulus bill went forward without an additional $25 billion for infrastructure spending.