(H.Res. 609) Legislation providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of Agriculture, rural development, and the Food and Drug Administration - - on a procedural motion relating to whether the House should bring up and consider the resolution setting the terms for debating the bill
This was one of a series of votes resulting from procedural tactics of the Republican majority to protest what it said was the unfair limitation that the Democratic majority was placing on the number of amendments that could be offered to spending bills. This vote was formally on the motion to have the House bring up and consider the resolution or “rule” that set the terms for consideration of the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of Agriculture, for rural development, and for the Food and Drug Administration. Among the terms in that rule were limitations on the number of amendments that could be offered when that spending bill was being considered.
The procedural question was raised by Rep. Flake (R-AZ). He had formally raised a point of order against taking up the rule on the funding bill, based on a claim that the measure contained a provision violating the Congressional Budget Act. However, Flake began his remarks by acknowledging that he raised the point of order “because it's the only vehicle we've got to actually talk about this rule and this bill and how we are being denied the ability to actually offer the amendments that we would like to . . . and how this is a break again from the hallmark and tradition of this House, which is to allow open debate on appropriation bills.”
Rep. Flake had been a consistent opponent of including “earmarks”, or legislatively mandated spending, in funding bills. He noted that the Agriculture-FDA spending bill had “hundreds and hundreds of earmarks in it . . . .”
Rep. McGovern (D-MA) was leading the effort for the Democrats in support of the rule for the Agricultural-FDA funding bill. He noted that “technically this point of order is about whether or not to consider this rule and ultimately the underlying bill. In reality, it's about trying to block this bill without any opportunity for debate and without any opportunity for an up-or-down vote on the legislation itself . . . (and) the underlying bill that we want to consider here is a bill that provides food and nutrition to some of the most desperate people in this country. It's a bill that will provide much-needed help to farmers in rural areas all across this country. This is an important bill for a number of reasons, and I think it's wrong to try to delay this bill or block this legislation from coming to the floor. I hope . . . we can consider this important legislation on its merits and not stop it on a procedural obstructionist motion. Those who oppose this bill can vote against it on final passage.”
The motion passed by a vote of 244-185. All two hundred and forty-four “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Eight other Democrats jointed all one hundred and seventy-seven Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, the House was able to take up the rule setting the terms for debating the bill providing funding in fiscal year 2010 for the Department of Agriculture, rural development, and the Food and Drug Administration.