What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : War on Drugs : (H.R.2892) On the King of Iowa amendment that was intended to have Congress express its view that the Department of Homeland Security should remove lookout sites on the U.S.-Mexican border that were being used by drug smugglers
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(H.R.2892) On the King of Iowa amendment that was intended to have Congress express its view that the Department of Homeland Security should remove lookout sites on the U.S.-Mexican border that were being used by drug smugglers
house Roll Call 439     Jun 24, 2009
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. King (R-IA) to H.R. 2892, which provided funding for the Department of Homeland Security for the 2010 fiscal year. The intent of the King Amendment was to have the Department of Homeland Security remove lookout sites on the U.S.-Mexican border that were being used by drug smugglers. House rules would not permit language to be included in a funding bill such as H.R. 2892, ordering the Department of Homeland Security to take a specific action such as removing the lookout sites. Rep. King therefore offered an amendment with allowable but inconsequential language, with the stated purpose of sending a message about the view of Congress regarding the lookout sites.

King made clear in his remarks in support of the amendment that adding this language to the bill was just a procedural device that he used to give the Congress an opportunity to express its support for having the sites removed. He said he had walked the border area in Arizona with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who told him that they felt “Congress should have a voice” on whether the federal government should act to remove the lookout sites.

Rep. Price (D-NC), the chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, who was managing H.R. 2892, opposed the amendment. He noted that its language has “no statutory direction.” He disagreed with Rep. King that the amendment would have the effect of having the Homeland Security Department take some particular action. Price emphasized that the amendment “is meaningless, having no effect, and establishing no legislative mandate . . . On that basis alone, and to discourage the use of this kind of parliamentary tactic to stretch out the time for general debate, I urge colleagues to defeat this amendment.”  

Rep. King responded that he “would have been happy to work with some language that would have perhaps been made in order,” but, for Congress to have a voice on these lookouts, he offered this formal amendment with his explanation of its intent. King added that “how this Congress speaks to this amendment is how Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the balance of the law enforcement personnel on the border will react.”

The amendment passed by a vote of 240-187. One hundred and seventy-five Republicans and sixty-five Democrats voted “aye”. One hundred and eighty-five Democrats, including an overwhelming majority of the most progressive Members, and two Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the language intended to send the message to the Department of Homeland Security that Congress wanted to have the lookout sites removed was added to the bill.

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