(H.R. 3170) On the Blackburn of Tennessee amendment to the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Small Business Administration, the federal courts and many other federal government operations. The amendment would have reduced all discretionary funding in the bill by 5%.
This was a vote on am amendment offered by Rep. Blackburn (R-TN) to H.R. 3081, the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Small Business Administration, the federal courts and many other federal government operations. The amendment would have made an across-the-board cut of 5% in all discretionary funding in the bill. H.R. 3170 had $24 billion of discretionary spending, which meant that the amendment would have reduced the amount by $1.2 billion.
Rep. Blackburn said in her statement in support of the amendment that she expected the Democratic majority to argue “how responsible the bill is” and that the programs it funds “are just too vital to be cut.” She then asked, rhetorically, “How many hard choices can possibly be being made by Members of this Chamber when every year we spend more and more and more.” Blackburn said she would concede that “indeed we do have critical programs that need to be funded.” She then went on to urge that “in this economy, when people are losing their jobs, when businesses are struggling, with a $1 trillion deficit already on the books for this year, we consider reducing by 5 percent the amount (of spending in the bill) . . . .”
Rep. Serrano (D-NY), the chair of the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed H.R. 3081, opposed the amendment. He began his remarks against it by noting that, when the Republicans speak about the national debt, they “never bring up the debt that the last (Bush) administration rang up through the Iraq war. That's got to be at least half a trillion dollars, if not more. And I'm still waiting to find the weapons of mass destruction.”
Serrano then itemized the impact of the amendment that Rep. Blackburn proposed. He said it would “cut $51 million from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which would slash 120 staff members who . . . go after the crooks on Wall Street . . . prevent new IRS enforcement initiatives . . . resulting in over $600 million in lost tax revenues . . . (and not allow) the Small Business Administration . . . to meet the borrowing needs of small businesses. SBA lending, in its popular 7(a) loan program, which both sides support, would be reduced by $875 million.” Serrano also argued that the federal courts would lose 1,000 employees. He concluded by saying that the 5% reduction would be “hurting the very people we should protect.”
The vote was defeated by a vote of 184-247. One hundred and sixty-four Republicans and twenty Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and thirty-six Democrats and eleven Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the proposed 5% across-the-board reduction was not made in the bill providing 2010 fiscal year funding for a range of federal government operations.