This was on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debating the conference report containing the legislation providing nearly $450 billion in fiscal year 2010 funding for several federal departments. The House and Senate had passed different versions of H.R. 3288, the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation. When the two Houses of Congress pass different versions of the same bill, a final version is typically negotiated in a conference between both bodies. The original version of the legislation did provide funding only for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation. Since fiscal year 2010 was well under way, the Democratic majority decided to add 2010 funding for several other departments to the legislation during the conference.
Most conference reports, like most bills, require the approval of a resolution or “rule” setting the terms for their debate, before they can be considered by the House. This was on a motion to move to an immediate vote on the rule setting the terms for debating this conference report.
Rep. McGovern (D-MA) was leading the support for the rule. McGovern described the money in all the measures included in this legislation as “critical funding” that will “reverse years of neglect . . . to our roads and our bridges . . . our lower income neighbors and . . . education system, and . . . our veterans.” McGovern argued that the funds in all the measures included in this legislation were needed to continue the efforts of the Obama Administration, which “is reversing a long downward spiral that started under the last President.”
McGovern claimed: The (economic) stimulus plan is working as planned. We are making sound investments in helping . . . to breathe life back into our real estate economy.” McGovern went on to describe the efforts of the previous Bush Administration as demonstrating a “reverse Midas touch (that) turned surpluses into deficits.” He concluded by saying: “It's time to fund our priorities and meet the needs of the American people.”
Rep. Dreier (R-CA) was leading the opposition to the rule. He first complained that the rule permitted only one hour to debate for a “$500 billion measure” He then argued that “when virtually everyone . . . (is) engaged in cutting back spending . . . (W)e've seen an . . . 85 percent increase (in nondefense discretionary spending) at a time when families across this country are working very hard to make ends meet.”
Dreier then complained that the Democratic majority “shut out real debate . . . (and) made the unprecedented move of closing down the entire appropriations process” on the grounds that it was necessary to complete the spending bills in a timely manner. He concluded that: “What we have gotten is . . . neither timely nor deliberative action (and) . . . bad process begets bad substance.” He noted that “It's not unusual for our work on the Federal budget to extend beyond the close of the fiscal year”, but suggested that did not justify moving forward on this large a bill in so short an allowed time.
The rule setting the terms for debating the legislation was approved by a vote of 221-200. All two hundred and twenty-one “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Twenty-nine other Democrats joined all one hundred and seventy-one Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, the House was able to begin debating the legislation providing fiscal year 2010 funding for several federal departments.