What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Adequate Government Funding for a Broad Range of Human Needs : H.J. Res. 20 Continuing appropriations to fund the federal government through Sept. 30, 2007/Motion to Invoke Cloture (2007 senate Roll Call 46)
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H.J. Res. 20 Continuing appropriations to fund the federal government through Sept. 30, 2007/Motion to Invoke Cloture
senate Roll Call 46     Feb 13, 2007
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In this vote the Senate moved to cutoff further debate on a $463.5 billion measure to fund the federal government for the remainder of the 2007 fiscal year. The continuing resolution was necessary because at the end of the past Congress the Republican majorities in both chambers decided not to finish 13 of the 15 spending bills that fund federal agencies, instead passing so-called continuing resolutions and leaving the budgetary decisions to the new Democratic majorities. Continuing resolutions are stopgap funding measures that usually keep spending levels for federal agencies constant until the appropriations bills for the next fiscal year are signed into law. This continuing appropriations bill is extremely unusual, however, in that it contains a number of program increases as well as cuts. In that sense it is closer to a regular appropriations bill than a traditional continuing resolution. Republicans in the Senate were upset that many of their amendments to the spending bill were not considered. Some Republicans wanted to reverse some or all of the Democrats' budget tradeoffs, such as the bill's reapportionment of $3.1 billion from military base realignment to domestic programs. (Even with the cut, the resolution provides a $1 billion increase for military base realignment over fiscal 2006.) The Senate's business is usually conducted in a relatively free-wheeling fashion, and even members of the minority party are used to seeing their amendments come to a vote. But the Democratic majority was particularly wary of adopting any amendments to the House-passed resolution, because even a small change would have required that the measure go back to the House for approval. Thus, the vote to invoke cloture was key to moving past Republican objections and bringing the measure towards final passage. Cloture is the only procedure in the Senate that restricts the amount of time a bill may be considered. Under Senate rules, cloture requires three-fifths of the chamber, normally 60 votes. In recent years, because of a highly contentious relationship between the two parties, such a supermajority has been required to handle much of the Senate's business because without cloture any member can threaten to hold the chamber's agenda hostage by refusing to turn over control of the floor, an act known as a filibuster. The motion to invoke cloture passed easily, 71-26, and made way for the continuing resolution to come to a final vote. The matter had a degree of urgency, as the previous stopgap funding measure was set to expire that evening at midnight. If the vote hadn't passed, the government would have shut down.

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