This vote was on a motion to instruct conferees on the fiscal 2010 budget resolution to insist that the measure cap fiscal 2010 and 2011 spending at 2009 levels and only allow one percent increases from 2012 through 2014.
Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who made the motion, said holding spending level is necessary given that Congress just enacted an additional $800 billion in economic stimulus money.
“We ought to be able to keep the baseline budget level for 2 years, and then finish out the 5-year budget at 1 percent growth. We have doubled the national debt through this budget—we will do so in 5 years—and triple it in 10,” Sessions said. “This is the right approach to show some discipline on the baseline budget at a time we are surging the discretionary spending through the stimulus package.”
Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Sessions’ amendment would hamper investments America needs to make in a time of economic crisis.
“The investments we make in this budget that is before us are important for education, for health care, for energy, and for the other priorities that on which this country has asked us to move forward,” Murray said. “I urge my colleagues to vote no on the motion before us so that we can have the flexibility to deal with these critical issues before us today.”
These “motions to instruct” are intended to provide guidance to the conferees on a bill (conferees are members of the House and Senate who meet to hammer out the two chambers’ differences on a bill). Motions to instruct are not binding on conferees, and as such mostly serve as a platform from which lawmakers can talk about a range of topics, or to put the majority of the chamber on record as endorsing an idea that bears on the conference. The motion was made 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.
By a vote of 38-56, the motion was rejected. All but two Republicans present voted for the motion. All but one Democrat present voted against the motion. The end result is that the measure went forward without language to instruct conferees on a budget resolution to insist on capping fiscal 2010 and 2011 spending at 2009 levels and limiting future growth to one percent until 2014.