This vote was on whether to bring debate to a close on a bill that would extend unemployment insurance benefits, several expired tax provisions, Medicaid doctor payment increases and other items.
Republicans had threatened to hold up the bill’s consideration indefinitely with a filibuster, causing Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., to file what is known as a “cloture motion,” which, in essence, is a vote on bringing debate on a bill or amendment to a close, which is what this vote was on. If the Senate votes to “invoke cloture” – or bring debate to a close – then lawmakers must either hold a vote on the legislation, amendment or motion in question, or move on to other business. This type of motion is most often called on contentious legislation where the leadership is concerned that consideration could be held up indefinitely by a handful of senators.
John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the bill has little purpose except to increase the deficit.
“More deficit spending is simply irresponsible. Our national debt, as we know, is over $13 trillion, and $2.3 trillion of that $13 trillion of debt has been added just since the time President Obama has been sworn into office. Congress is spending money in a way that would give drunken sailors a bad name—more than $30,000 per household, more than $12,000 per household from our children,” Cornyn said. “Our debt represents a national security vulnerability. The best way to reduce our strategic and economic risks associated with our debt is to stop spending money we do not have. Stop. Every family, every business in America, when they run out of money, they do not just continue to try to max out their credit card.”
Harry Reid, D-Nev., noted that if Congress does not pass this bill, then the next day doctors would not be reimbursed as much for taking care of Medicaid patients. He also noted that the economic stimulus law’s real effects are only now being fully realized and not to continue along this path would cost jobs in the long run.
“If there were ever a time to pass this bill, it is now,” Reid said.
By a vote of 56-40, the motion to bring debate to a close was rejected. Though more voted yes than no, this particular type of vote requires 60 in order to be considered passed. All but one Democrat present voted to bring debate to a close. Every Republican present voted against bringing debate to a close. The end result is that the motion to bring debate to a close failed and debate continued on a measure that would extend expired tax provisions and unemployment insurance benefits. (The next day, the Senate separately passed a bill that prevented Medicare reimbursements from being cut.)