What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Insuring Government Has Adequate Financing to Function : S Con Res 13. (Fiscal 2010 budget resolution) Alexander of Tennessee amendment seeking to hold down the public debt/On agreeing to the amendment (2009 senate Roll Call 119)
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S Con Res 13. (Fiscal 2010 budget resolution) Alexander of Tennessee amendment seeking to hold down the public debt/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 119     Apr 01, 2009
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., that would have created a new 60-vote “point of order” against any budget resolution in the next 10 years that shows an increase in public debt greater than 90 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP).  A “point of order” is a procedural motion senators may bring up when they feel a bill, amendment or other motion violates certain rules set out by Congress to govern itself.  Unless senators vote to waive those rules – which usually takes 60 votes, a large margin in the Senate -- the bill, amendment or motion in question can be killed by the point of order.  Alexander’s amendment would have added a new rule by which legislation can be defeated unless the rule is waived by a 60-vote margin.

Alexander’s amendment was offered to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress’ budget priorities in fiscal 2010.  The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.

Alexander called his amendment the “runaway debt limit” amendment. He said the news this week – where President Obama ousted the president of General Motors – showed “the leverage a lender can have over a borrower.”


“Well, China, Japan, and Middle Eastern oil countries already own $1.4 trillion of U.S. debt. So vote yes on the runaway debt limit amendment if you do not want China, Japan, and Middle Eastern oil countries telling the United States how to run our business in the same way our Government is telling General Motors how to run its business,” Alexander said.

Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said the amendment is well-intentioned but “fatally flawed” because it will tank the budget resolution entirely.
“So I would say to my colleagues, while I understand the sentiment, and share in it, I think we all have to be concerned about burgeoning debt. To make it harder to get a budget resolution, actually, I think undermines the effort to establish fiscal discipline because you lose all of the disciplines that are provided for in a budget resolution,” Conrad said.

By a vote of 43-55, the amendment was rejected.  Every Republican present voted for the amendment.  All but two Democrats voted against the amendment.  The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have made it easier to defeat future budget resolutions that assume debts of more than 90 percent of gross domestic product.

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