What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Adequate Government Funding for a Broad Range of Human Needs : S Con Res 21. (Fiscal 2008 budget resolution), Enzi of Wyoming amendment easing unfunded mandates on small businesses/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 95)
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S Con Res 21. (Fiscal 2008 budget resolution), Enzi of Wyoming amendment easing unfunded mandates on small businesses/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 95     Mar 22, 2007
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This vote was on an amendment by Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., that would have created a new 60-vote "point of order" against any bill that would impose an "unfunded mandate" in excess of $131 million in the aggregate on small businesses.

An "unfunded mandate" is simply any federal requirement placed on a government or private company that is not accompanied by funding to help meet that mandate. A "point of order" is a procedural motion senators may bring up when they feel a bill, amendment or other motion violates certain rules set out by Congress to govern itself. Unless senators vote to waive those rules -- which usually takes 60 votes, a large margin in the Senate -- the bill, amendment or motion in question can be killed by the point of order.

Enzi's amendment was offered to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress' budget priorities in fiscal 2008. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.

Enzi said that in the past, the budget resolution has included a "point of order" against imposing unfunded mandates on state and local governments, and that Congress should consider creating one for small businesses. Enzi's proposal is backed by the National Federation of Independent Business, a lobby group for small businesses.

"Small business doesn't have the people or the clout to be able to come here and point out to us the gross burdens we are putting on them," Enzi said. "It is time for Congress to remember that our actions here in Washington have very real monetary consequences on the small business owners in Buffalo, WY, or Conway, NH, or Main Street, Anywhere."

Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said there already exists a 50-vote point of order (a simple majority of the Senate, rather than a supermajority of 60), and that he opposes raising the threshold because it may create unintended consequences. He also said it is beyond the scope of the budget resolution, the bill that Enzi sought to add his amendment to.

"I am very concerned about creating a 60-vote hurdle, a supermajority vote, that could affect issues such as the mental health parity legislation of Senator Domenici, such as the 2007 Defense authorization bill, such as the minimum wage bill, such as the bankruptcy reform legislation, such as pension reform," Conrad said. "

Democrats were successful in defeating the amendment, 47-49. During the vote, one Republican and one Democrat defected -- Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, voted yes, while George Voinovich, R-Ohio, voted no. Thus, the budget resolution went forward without language establishing a 60-vote point of order against legislation placing unfunded mandates in excess of $131 million on small businesses.

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