What: All Issues : Health Care : Medical Research Funding : Fiscal 2007 continuing resolution to fund the federal government (H. J. Res. 20)/Democratic motion to table (kill) an appeal to the ruling of the chair against a Republican point of order against the bill on grounds that it violates House rules
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Fiscal 2007 continuing resolution to fund the federal government (H. J. Res. 20)/Democratic motion to table (kill) an appeal to the ruling of the chair against a Republican point of order against the bill on grounds that it violates House rules
house Roll Call 70     Jan 31, 2007
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This vote was on a procedural motion to legislation to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2007. Republicans complained that the bill violated a new House rule prohibiting what are known as earmarks - provisions tucked into legislation that benefit a particular interest, organization or locale.

The resolution would provide $463.5 billion for the programs covered by the nine outstanding fiscal 2007 appropriations bills that were not completed by the previous Republican-led Congress. The legislation did not contain funding for any new earmarks, but it continued to fund earmarks inserted into previous spending bills.

Democrats expressed their pride that the bill was crafted without new earmarks. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) said it was the first time in a generation, or perhaps in modern history, that such a spending bill did not include earmarks. "It's a political miracle that Democrats should get credit for. We have already shown more backbone in 150 hours than Republicans did in six years," Cooper said.

But Republicans were relentless in their insistence that the bill did contain earmarks.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) raised a point of order against the measure on the grounds that it contained earmarks. Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), who chairs the Appropriations Committee that crafted the measure, responded that he previously inserted a statement in the Congressional Record that the legislation "does not contain any congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits" as prohibited by House rules.

To which McHenry replied: "Mr. Speaker, the gentleman is stating, simply because legislation states that there are no earmarks, that you can contain thousands of earmarks after that statement. It defies logic and defies reason."

McHenry accused Obey of parliamentary shenanigans. "Therefore, it is a very crafty way, and I have got to compliment the gentleman for putting together a very crafty piece of legislation to try to slip this by," McHenry said. "But under these House rules, this is a clear violation of the anti-earmarking provision that is very important to the rules of debate, even when the minority is not able to offer any amendments, even when the minority has no other means of removing congressional earmarks."

The Speaker Pro Tempore (a member of the majority party designated by the Speaker to chair the debate in her absence) ruled against McHenry's point of order on grounds that House rules dictate that it is not in order to consider the question of earmarks unless the referring committee chairman had indicated that the legislation contains earmarks. According to the ruling, a point of order may be brought only if the chairman fails to make such a statement in the Congressional Record, which Obey had done.

At this point, McHenry appealed the rule of the chair, and Obey moved to table (kill) the appeal. The vote was on the motion to table.

In almost a complete party-line vote, the House moved to table the appeal. Only two Republicans crossed party lines to vote with a unanimous Democratic majority to vote to table. Thus, by a vote of 226 to 184, the House dispensed with an appeal of a ruling by the chair that a spending bill to fund the government for the remainder of 2007 did not contain earmarks in violation of House rules, and the legislation proceeded towards an up-or-down vote.

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