This vote was on whether to allow to go forward an amendment by Scott Brown, R-Mass., that would have used unspent stimulus money to give workers a six-month federal payroll tax holiday. The amendment was offered to a bill that would extend for varying lengths of time, mostly around a year, several programs that would otherwise have expired within a month. These include unemployment benefits, heath insurance subsidies for the unemployed, small business loans, flood insurance and other items.
Max Baucus, D-Mont., attempted to kill the amendment with a parliamentary maneuver, saying it violated the Senate’s budgetary rules. Brown then made a motion that the rules be waived in this instance, which is what this vote was on.
Brown said there is about $80 billion in stimulus money that has yet to be spent.
“I believe and others believe it is time to put this money back to work immediately and put it into the pockets of hard-working Americans and American families so they can get what they need, so they can provide for their families, they can save for their future, and put real money back into the struggling economy,” Brown said. “Providing an immediate across-the-board tax relief for working families is not complicated economic policy. I think it is simple and common economic sense.”
Max Baucus, D-Mont., pointed out that Republicans have repeatedly tried to use this bill to redirect unused stimulus money, and repeatedly been defeated.
“As a former President used to say, ‘There they go again.’ There they go again trying to cut back the Recovery Act. There they go again trying to scale back what [Congressional Budget Office] says is a proven success in creating jobs. They tried it with the Bunning amendment Tuesday, they tried it with the Thune amendment yesterday, they tried it with the Bunning amendment yesterday, they tried it with the Burr amendment yesterday. Each time the Senate rejected their attempt to raid the Recovery Act, and we should do the same again today,” Baucus said.
By a vote of 44-56, the Senate refused to waive the rules and allow Brown’s amendment to go forward. All but one Republican present voted to waive the rules. All but four Democrats present voted to waive the rules (including the most progressive members). The end result is that the Senate did not waive the rules, Brown’s amendment was defeated and the bill went forward without language that would have used stimulus money to pay for a six-month federal payroll tax holiday.