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 131)
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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 131     Apr 17, 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. This was the second such cloture motion called on the bill; the first failed 40-41.

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 first cloture motion, according to Intelligence Chairman John Rockefeller, D-W.Va. That failed on a vote of 41-40.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said after the first cloture vote failed he decided to allow Republicans to offer some amendments, but complained that they were irrelevant to the underlying bill. He mentioned specifically an amendment offered by John Cornyn, R-Texas, dealing with immigration. Reid said this led to his calling for a second cloture vote after allowing Republicans a day to offer their amendments.

Reid also called Republicans "lemmings" for their unwavering support of the White House's bid to defeat the measure. "This year I thought it would be good if we passed an Intelligence authorization bill," Reid said. "But it gets over here and word comes from the White House: Don't let that bill go. Like lemmings off a cliff, the Republicans do not allow this bill to go forward. The excuses, a fourth grade student could see through, maybe a second grade student," Reid said.

Kit Bond, R-Mo., said moving forward with the bill is important, but that it is equally important to have time for members of both parties to debate the legislation. "We would ask that we be able to proceed in a reasonable timeframe to take up amendments which have been introduced by the chairman and the vice chairman together and reflect bipartisan agreement. As vice chairman, I am firmly committed to passage of intelligence reauthorization," Bond said.

On a vote of 45-50, the Senate again failed to invoke cloture and move to close debate on the intelligence measure -- a defeat for Democrats, who later declared the bill dead for the year. (Though more voted yes than no, agreement by a three-fifths majority of the Senate (60) is required to invoke cloture.)

Democrats voted unanimously in favor of halting debate on the bill and moving to a final passage vote, while most Republicans voted no (with two exceptions: Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snowe of Maine). Thus, cloture was not invoked, and the Senate was allowed to continue debating the measure. However, because Democrats failed twice on key votes on the bill, Reid decided to move on to other business.

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