This was a vote on a motion to suspend the rules and pass a resolution urging the federal government to implement national policies to prevent ocean acidification --which can severely damage marine ecosystems in coastal areas -- in the United States.
Motions to suspend the rules limit time allowed for debate, and prohibit members from offering amendments. A two-thirds majority vote is required to approve the motion and pass a bill, rather than the usual majority.
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) urged support for the resolution: “…What our resolution attempts to do is to focus on another perhaps worse threat to the oceans today associated with the burning of fossil fuels, and that is the sad, unalterable, unambiguous, scientifically certain fact that our oceans are becoming more acidic, substantially more acidic, as a result of carbon-based pollution from our burning of oil and coal and other fossil fuels.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) criticized the resolution as overly vague, and charged it could be a stalking horse for cap-and-trade legislation. (“Cap-and-trade” refers to a proposal in which companies that emit excessive quantities of pollutants would be required to purchase credits from companies that pollute less.) Chaffetz said: “I would stress that, prior to adopting national policies and international agreements which could adversely impact American jobs, the administration needs to continue its efforts to conduct research to better understand ocean acidification to ensure that efforts to address its effects do not necessarily harm the United States economy.”
Chaffetz asked Inslee about cap-and-trade directly: “It [the resolution] talks in the very first sentence, `Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should adopt national policies.' By `national policies' does the gentleman mean the cap-and-trade?”
Inslee responded: “A cap could be one of those, but there are many other policies that could be beneficial, many of which have already passed the House of Representatives, including our efforts to start building electric cars in America rather than China, building lithium ion batteries. We are opening up our first plant in Michigan where we are putting to work hundreds of out-of-work autoworkers. All of these are great policies. We do not specify in this resolution any particular policy.”
Although a majority of members (241) voted in favor of the resolution, it failed to receive the two-thirds majority vote required for passage under suspension of the rules. Thus, the measure was rejected. The vote on the resolution was 241-170. 222 Democrats and 19 Republicans voted “yea.” 150 Republicans and 20 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected a resolution urging the federal government to implement national policies to prevent ocean acidification -- which can severely damage marine ecosystems in coastal areas -- in the United States.