H. Res. 275, providing for the rules of consideration governing debate of the fiscal 2008 budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 99)/On agreeing to the rules package
house Roll Call 203 Mar 28, 2007
This vote was on adoption of a rule outlining the floor consideration of a fiscal 2008 budget resolution, which would set spending and revenue targets for the next five years.
By law, Congress is supposed to pass a budget resolution every year by April 15. The Republican-led Congress failed to do so for the fiscal 2007 year, leading to what many in both parties acknowledged was a breakdown in the appropriations process. Even though the budget resolution does not have the force of law, it establishes broad financial guidelines for the upcoming debates on spending and thus serves as an agreed-upon framework for how Congress considers tax and spending decisions. The new Democratic majority in Congress sought to pass a fiscal 2008 budget resolution as a way to contrast its leadership style with its Republican predecessors.
The rules for debate outline how much time will be allotted to each side, what amendments will be considered in order and what procedural motions will be allowed. The "rules package," as it is known, allowed for the introduction of three alternative budget plans, including proposals offered by the Republican Conference, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
The budget resolution written by the Democratic majority included a $1.1 trillion cap on discretionary spending, about $25 billion more than President Bush sought and $7 billion more than the budget resolution adopted by the Senate. The House Democrats' budget proposal - in keeping with pay-as-you-go budget rules that require any new spending to be offset by tax increases or spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget -- was sufficient to allow inflationary increases in most programs as well as significant increases in education spending and veterans' benefits.
Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) rose to support the Democratic proposal and the rules package outlining its consideration by pointing out in the past six years the country has gone from having a projected $5.6 trillion surplus to looking at a $9 trillion dollar deficit, and growing.
"It goes far beyond having been drunk at the wheel," Sutton said. "Our predecessors in the majority not only crashed the car into a ditch, they accelerated after landing there, allowing mud to cave in on top of it."
The Democratic budget, she said, represents "the first time in a very long time that Congress has before it a budget that is fiscally responsible and in line with the needs of the American people."
Republicans such as Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) rose to oppose the rules for consideration for the same reasons they opposed the underlying bill, because they said it increased taxes and didn't deal with the upcoming retirement of 77 million baby boomers, which will put an enormous strain on an already stretched entitlement system.
"This Democrat budget, which is balanced on the backs of everyday taxpayers, will be used to finance bloated new government spending that my colleague just spoke about that will be well above the rate of inflation through 2012 while ignoring the brewing entitlement crisis," Sessions said.
Although Republicans argued that the budget resolution assumes "the largest tax increase in American history," in the words of Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), it actually assumes the same revenue as current law, under which the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are set to expire after 2010.
"This budget does not raise a penny in new taxes, not one," said Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.).
On a complete party-line vote, Republicans unanimously opposed the rules package for the fiscal 2008 budget resolution, and Democrats unanimously supported it. Thus, by a vote of 229-197, the House approved the rules package and paved the way for the budget resolution to come to the floor, including final votes on the alternative proposals put forth by the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and by the Republican Conference, as well as the original Democratic proposal
MAKING GOVERNMENT WORK FOR EVERYONE, NOT JUST THE RICH OR POWERFUL — Adequate Government Funding for a Broad Range of Human Needs
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