Under congressional procedures, both Houses must agree on an identical budget outlining revenues and spending for a fiscal year, before any spending bill for that fiscal year can be approved. The House was scheduled to debate the budget for fiscal year 2010 and the general budgetary levels through fiscal year 2014. Under usual House procedures, before a measure can be considered, the House must first approve a resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debating that measure. This was a vote on the rule setting the terms for debating the fiscal year 2010 budget.
Rep. McGovern (D-MA), who was leading the effort on the rule, focused his attention on the budget itself. He first argued: “(F)or the last 8 years, President Bush flat out mismanaged the Federal budget (by) enacting huge tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that led to skyrocketing deficits, by spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without paying for them, and by refusing to invest in the American people.” McGovern then claimed that the budget developed by the Democratic majority writes “a whole new book, and our budget cuts the deficit by more than half by 2013. It cuts taxes for middle-income families by $1.5 trillion. It creates jobs by investing in health care, clean energy, and education.”
McGovern highlighted three broad areas with which he claimed the budget dealt: “Fiscal discipline, middle-class tax cuts, and investments in the American people”. He claimed: “(U)nlike the Bush administration, we actually budget for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan instead of hiding them under, quote, emergency spending categories . . . Our budget cuts taxes for 95 percent of Americans. It provides immediate relief from the alternative minimum tax, it eliminates the estate tax in nearly all the states, and works to close corporate tax loopholes. . . .”
Rep. Dreier (R-CA), who was leading the Republican effort against the rule, also dealt directly with the budget itself. He argued “this Democratic-Obama budget . . . in fact over the next 5 years doubles the national debt and over the next 10 years triples the national debt. . . . They like to claim that their tax hikes will only hit the super-rich. They are wrong. Their income tax hikes will hit the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy. And their cap-and-trade (energy) program, the great source of revenues, which is really a cap-and-tax program, will raise taxes on every single household in America.”
Dreier further argued:”Republicans aren't advocating extreme austerity, but we are advocating a little common sense. We must own up to the hard choices that are a fact of life for the American people (but) we clearly have an alternative. . . It will not tax small businesses and working families and will not balloon the deficit to untenable proportions . . . I urge my colleagues not to be drawn into the false choice that has been provided by the Democratic majority.”
The rule passed by a vote of 234-179 along almost straight party lines. All 234 “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Five other Democrats joined one hundred and seventy-four Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, the House was able to move to debate the fiscal year 2010 budget resolution.