This was a vote on a motion to invoke cloture and bring the debate to an end on H.R. 3288, providing nearly $450 billion in fiscal year 2010 funding for several federal departments. The legislation was being filibustered by a number of Republican senators. The motion to invoke cloture as a means to bring the legislation to a vote was made by a group of Democratic senators led by Appropriations Committee Chairman Inouye (D-HI) and Majority Leader Reid (D-NV). The vote on cloture was effectively a vote on whether to approve the legislation.
H.R. 3288 originally provided fiscal year 2010 funding only for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation. The Senate and House of Representatives had each passed different versions of the bill. When the two Houses of Congress pass different versions of the same bill, a final version is typically negotiated in a conference between both bodies. Since fiscal year 2010 was well under way and Congress had not yet passed the funding bills for a number of other departments, the Democratic majority decided during the conference on H.R. 3288 to add to it the 2010 funding for almost all of those other departments.
During the debate on the conference report, Sen. Durbin (D-IL), the Senate Deputy Majority Leader who supported the cloture motion, said: “We had hoped we could take each bill individually and consider it on the floor . . . Unfortunately, we ran out of time . . . We had over 90 different efforts made to stop debate on the Senate floor on a variety of (other) measures. It took us literally 4 weeks to extend unemployment benefits . . . Those 4 weeks could have been spent calling up these appropriations bills so we could have had what was needed--a healthy, open debate on the bills. Instead, we were forced to wait until toward the end of the session and consolidate the unpassed bills in one measure and bring it to the floor of the Senate today.”
Durbin went on to say that all the spending measures that had been incorporated into H.R. 3288 “have (previously) been carefully reviewed (and) . . . were reported out of (the Appropriations) Committee with overwhelming bipartisan votes.” He added that those who “come before us today and argue that the (Democratic) majority is cramming these votes and bills down the throats of Members without giving them opportunity is to ignore what came before . . . there were subcommittee hearings . . . there was a vote in the Appropriations Committee on each of the bills, and they passed overwhelmingly.”
Sen. Kyl (R-AZ) opposed the cloture motion. He described H.R. 3288 as “the bill which . . . cleans up a little bit of a mess that the Congress has created because we did not do our work earlier in the year. We are supposed to pass appropriations bills to run the government, to run the various departments, and we did not get around to doing that. So right here, at the very end, we have to combine all kinds of those bills together . . . six bills in total.” He went on to say he found it “ironic we are talking about a bill which is nearly $500 billion . . . at a time when our national deficit is $1.4 trillion (and) . . . we are going to be asked to raise the debt ceiling in this country by something like $1.8 trillion.” Kyl added: “There is a lot in (this legislation) to cut. So the point I want to make . . . before we vote to proceed with this legislation, is we could do better.”
The cloture motion carried on a vote of 60-34. Fifty-seven Democrats and three Republicans voted “aye”. Thirty-one Republicans and three Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, debate was ended on H.R. 3288 and the Senate was able to move to a vote on its final passage.