What: All Issues : Human Rights & Civil Liberties : Enfranchising the Disenfranchised/Voting Rights : Rules governing debate (H. Res. 86) for a resolution to provide limited voting rights for delegates to the House/Motion to order the previous question, end debate and prevent amendment
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Rules governing debate (H. Res. 86) for a resolution to provide limited voting rights for delegates to the House/Motion to order the previous question, end debate and prevent amendment
house Roll Call 51     Jan 24, 2007
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:

This vote was on a procedural motion to a resolution outlining the rules for debate for a measure to provide limited floor-voting privileges for delegates to the House from the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories.

The rules for consideration, also known as the rules package, governs how much time each side will be given for debate and what amendments will be considered in order.

The measure the House was to debate was a change to House rules giving the four lawmakers who serve as delegates from Washington, D.C., Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa and the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico the right to vote when the House meets in the Committee of the Whole, which the House does when debating and voting on amendments to legislation. If the delegates' votes were to decide the winning margin in any particular vote, however, an automatic revote would occur from which the delegates would be excluded. The delegates would also be unable to cast votes for final passage on legislation.

The Democratic-dominated Rules Committee approved a rules package allowing for the only amendment brought to the panel to be considered in order on the House floor, but Republicans still opposed the rules package for the resolution because of what Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) described as a "very, very, very" disappointing process.

"The thing that is very troubling to me is that we are at this point, without having ever given any kind of committee hearing, without any discussion or debate, and with a process upstairs that I think my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will acknowledge was really a great travesty and an injustice," Dreier said. (The Rules Committee meets upstairs from the House floor.)

For their part, the Democrats seemed perplexed by Republican complaints.

"This rule allows for consideration of the only amendment offered in the Rules Committee yesterday, said Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), adding that the Democrats also offered Republicans the opportunity to offer a substitute measure, which they declined. "If this bill is so awful, they could have introduced a substitute to null and void it. Indeed, the amendment that is made in order practically null and voids this entire bill. As someone who has been around for a few years, I do not think I have ever heard so many complaints about a rule that makes in order every single amendment offered in the Rules Committee."

This vote was a motion ordering the previous question on the rules package. Ordering the previous question is a parliamentary maneuver that effectively ends debate, prohibits amendment and moves the House to a vote for an up-or-down of the resolution under consideration. If the motion for the previous question is defeated, the House in effect turns control of the floor over to the lawmaker who led the opposition to the question at hand, usually a member of the minority party. As such, motions to order the previous question are usually party-line votes, and the majority party almost always prevails.

Such was the case for this vote, and all Republicans present but one voted against the measure and all Democrats present but one voted for it, and the motion passed 229 to 191. The House thus overcame a procedural hurdle to approving the rules of debate for a measure that would give limited voting privileges to the delegates from Guam, American Samoa, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands as well as the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico.

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