This was a vote on a motion to recommit (send back) to committee, the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act of 2009 with instructions to require that the Act terminate on the 30th day following any fiscal year in which the federal deficit exceeded $500 billion. The Parental Leave Act, among other things, gave federal employees 4 paid weeks of parental leave.
Rep. Issa (R-CA), who made the motion, said its purpose was to “tie the enactment of this new and expensive and overly generous benefit (provided by the Act) to the national debt. He estimated that the Act would cost an “additional 1, 2 or $4 billion (in) . . . new benefits paid to Federal workers” and said these amounts should not continue to be paid “unless this Congress is able to get its house in order”. He added that the new benefits should not be allowed “to continue on the backs of 14 million unemployed Americans, until or unless we're able to bring the deficit at least in line with where it was just two short years ago.”
Rep. Lynch (D-MA), one of the leading supporters of H.R. 626, opposed the motion because he said the additional language it proposed “guts the entire bill. (It) . . . would leave Federal employees exactly where we find them today.” He then suggested that those Republicans supporting the motion were being “disingenuous”. Lynch claimed that Republicans have consistently opposed the parental leave benefit provided by H.R. 626 “under every circumstance”, regardless of whether a surplus or a deficit was being projected, and that the reference to the deficit in the motion was just an excuse to oppose the bill. Lynch noted that Republicans opposed the bill during the Clinton Administration when there was no deficit, and in 2008 when “the unemployment rate was only 5.6 percent, and we had a very strong economy.”
The motion failed by a vote of 171-241. One hundred and sixty-three Republicans and eight Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and thirty-one Democrats and ten Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the House moved to a vote on final passage of the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act.