This vote was on bringing debate to a close on a bill that would provide $58.8 billion in supplemental spending for fiscal 2010, primarily for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also would provide $22.8 billion in spending for various domestic priorities.
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.
This particular vote was on passing a version of this bill that the House had already passed, which included $22.8 billion in spending for various domestic priorities, including $10 billion to help school districts nationwide avoid laying off teachers. Republicans did not want to agree to a bill that did anything other than fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It has taken until this late date to now vote once again on funding for our All-Volunteer Force. With each passing day we approach the end of the fiscal year and Secretary Gates loses the ability to shift funding from other activities in the Defense Department to the training of our forces scheduled to deploy. I am afraid we are losing sight of the purpose of these war supplemental bills. These bills are not for forward-funding domestic programs. They are not for funding projects that won’t pass elsewhere,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “It would be irresponsible to give the House any further reason to shirk the responsibility of getting this funding to our fighting forces. We need to pass this supplemental tonight, send it back to the House and reject any delaying tactic or additional matters that can wait for future consideration in this session.’
Russ Feingold, D-Wis., said the domestic spending in the bill does not add anything to the deficit and is needed to help protect jobs. He said the measure is also important because it would extend collective bargaining rights to public safety employees.
“The House amendment also includes a provision to give public safety employees, like firefighters and police officers, collective bargaining rights. While Wisconsin and other States already protect public safety employees’ collective bargaining rights, there are still several States that do not. Police officers, firefighters, and other public safety officers are on the front lines of protecting our communities and we should ensure that these hard working professionals have the ability to bargain for better wages and working conditions,” Feingold said.
By a vote of 46-51, the motion to bring debate to a close was rejected. Every Republican present voted against bringing debate to a close. Of Democrats present, 45 voted to bring debate to a close (including the most progressive senators) and 11 voted against bringing debate to a close. The end result is that debate was not brought to a close on a bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other domestic priorities, and debate on the measure continued.