The legislation funding the economic stimulus package had been developed in response to the severe economic downturn the country was experiencing.This was a vote on “ordering the previous question”, or bringing to an immediate vote H.Res. 168, the resolution” setting the terms under which the House could debate the legislation.
The Republicans opposed the motion on several grounds. Rep. Dreier (R-CA), the Ranking Republican on the House Rules Committee, first raised a point of order because the resolution permitting debate on the conference report contained “unfunded mandates”, which violate the Congressional Budget Act. An unfunded mandate is a provision requiring states to spend money on a program without providing federal money to pay for the program. The decision on the point of order was determined by the outcome of the vote on H. Res. 168.
Dreier then claimed that House Members only learned what was in the 1,000 page stimulus package “after midnight (of that day) . . .” He referred to a previous House vote calling for 48 hours to be provided to Members to see legislation before voting on it. Dreier argued that “. . . unfortunately, there was virtually no time provided . . . And it is my understanding that the online measure at that point . . . actually omitted three sections of the bill and that it was not placed online . . . (again until) after midnight.” Dreier added that: “(I)t is unconscionable that we would vote on a 1,000-page bill without at least reading the bill . . . we don't know what is in here.
Rep. Perlmutter (D-CO), who was leading the Democratic effort to bring the stimulus package to a vote, argued that “(T)echnically, this point of order is about whether or not to consider the rule and ultimately the underlying bill. But we know what it is really about, and that is about trying to block the bill without any opportunity for debate and without any opportunity for an up-or-down vote on the legislation itself. . . Those who oppose the bill can vote against it on final passage. We must consider this rule, and we must pass this (legislation) . . . . It is not a time for delay.”
Dreier responded that he wanted to “disabuse any of my colleagues of this notion that we want to do nothing. We very much want to work diligently to ensure that we can get our economy back on track”, and then referenced the Republican alternative stimulus package.
The motion passed by a vote of 234-194. All 234 “aye’ votes were cast by Democrats. Eighteen other Democrats joined all one hundred and seventh-six Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, the House moved immediately to a vote on the resolution permitting it to debate the legislation funding the economic stimulus package.