What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Right to Government Information : S 372. (Fiscal 2007 Intelligence authorization) Motion to bring debate on the bill to a close/On the cloture motion (2007 senate Roll Call 130)
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S 372. (Fiscal 2007 Intelligence authorization) Motion to bring debate on the bill to a close/On the cloture motion
senate Roll Call 130     Apr 16, 2007
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This vote was an attempt to bring debate on the fiscal 2007 Intelligence authorization bill to a close (known as a "cloture motion" in the Senate). If the Senate votes to "invoke cloture" -- or bring debate on a bill to a close -- then lawmakers must either hold a vote on whether to pass the bill in question, or move on to other business. This type of motion is most often called on contentious bills where the leadership is concerned that consideration could be held up indefinitely by a handful of unhappy politicians.

The bill itself would authorize funding in fiscal 2007 for U.S. spy agencies, such as the CIA. Much of the bill, including funding levels, is classified, though it is generally believed to be more than $40 billion.

In the case of the intelligence authorization, the monetary piece was almost irrelevant since fiscal 2007 was already half over when debate opened. However, the bill contains several provisions dealing with how the intelligence community works that the White House and other Republicans dislike. One of the contentious provisions, for example, would declassify the total amount of the intelligence budget. Another would require the administration to provide Congress with a report detailing its detention policies and clandestine detention facilities.

The White House threatened to veto the bill unless many of these provisions were changed. Republicans, upset that they were not allowed to offer more amendments seeking to strike language the White House was concerned about, repeatedly threw up roadblocks that prevented the bill from moving forward. This necessitated the cloture motion, according to Intelligence Chairman John Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

"Because of the inordinate number of obstacles put in the path of the bill to date, the majority leader has been forced to file a motion to invoke cloture on this legislation. I agree with him that this is the only way to force the Senate to finally do its job and pass this very important bill. It is unfortunate, but it has to happen," Rockefeller said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reiterated his complaint that the Democratic majority had refused to let his party amend the bill "adequately," which he said had been part of a trend all year.

"The way they're choosing to operate here is to bring up things that are excessively partisan, on frequent occasions allow no amendments at all and to try to jam 'em [through]," McConnell said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., countered that once cloture was invoked, Republicans would have 30 hours in which to file and debate their amendments before the final vote is called.

When the vote on bringing the bill to a close was called, it failed 40-41 along party lines. (A three-fifths majority of the Senate (60 votes) is required to invoke cloture, and so the motion failed.) Republicans voted unanimously against the motion to limit debate, while all but one Democrat voted for it (the exception was Reid, the majority leader, who likely voted no to ensure that he could call for a revote if he so chose. Congressional rules stipulate that a vote can only be taken again on the same issue if it is called by someone who previously voted in opposition). Thus, the motion to bring debate on the bill to a close failed, and consideration of the fiscal 2007 Intelligence authorization bill continued.

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