This vote was on passing a bill that would provide $65.1 billion in fiscal 2010 for the departments of Commerce and Justice, and science-related spending such as NASA. This includes $7.7 billion for the FBI, $6.1 billion for the federal prison system, $7.3 billion for the Census Bureau, $18.7 billion for NASA, and more.
“This bill is the result of a rigorous bipartisan effort to fund the Department of Justice, including the FBI and DEA, the Commerce Department, and major science agencies that propel our country in the area of innovation and technology development, such as the National Science Foundation and the National Space Agency,” said Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.
Most of the debate on this bill centered around fiscal policy, with Republicans charging that the bill spends too much money, particularly considering the amount of money enacted on top of last year’s federal budget cycle as part of the economic stimulus law. Democrats answered that their spending was within President Obama’s guidelines for the year and that the programs are all important for the country.
The most major fight over the bill derailed it temporarily when David Vitter, R-La., threatened to hold up consideration of the bill unless he was allowed to offer an amendment that would have added a question to the 2010 census, asking respondents to state their immigration status. Democrats tried to shut off debate but failed the first time because three Democrats were absent for the vote; some days later, when all Democrats were present, the vote to shut off debate on Vitter’s proposed amendment carried.
By a vote of 71-28, the Senate passed the bill. All but two Democrats present voted for the bill. Of Republicans present, 14 voted for the bill and 26 voted against it. The end result is that the Senate passed a bill that would provide $65.1 billion in funding for the departments of Commerce and Justice, and science programs, in fiscal 2010.