What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Curbing Presidential Power : HR 1. (Economic stimulus) Feingold of Wisconsin amendment that would create a new parliamentary rule against unauthorized member pet projects in spending bills/On agreeing to the amendment
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HR 1. (Economic stimulus) Feingold of Wisconsin amendment that would create a new parliamentary rule against unauthorized member pet projects in spending bills/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 46     Feb 05, 2009
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This vote was on an amendment by Russ Feingold, D-Wis., that would create a new parliamentary rule that would make it easier to defeat spending bills that contain unauthorized member pet projects (often referred to as “earmarks”).  It also would require recipients of federal money to disclose lobbying activities.  John McCain, R-Ariz., cosponsored the amendment.  The amendment was offered to a $900 billion spending bill intended to bolster the flagging economy and create jobs.

Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Feingold’s amendment would not add any transparency to the earmarking process, but would strengthen the executive branch at the expense of Congress. 

“The bottom line is that this amendment, if enacted, would make it difficult for Congress not only to establish its own spending priorities with regard to the civilian agencies and programs that are not subject to an annual authorization process, but even with regard to the Defense agencies and programs that are subject to such a process,” Levin said.  “Congress would place a major obstacle on itself from exercising the power of the purse, placing itself in the position of approving or disapproving programs in the President’s budget without the power to establish its own priorities without a super majority” vote.

Feingold said he anticipated opponents criticizing his amendment as doing nothing about earmarks, adding that “I am happy to consider a proposal targeting those things, but taxpayers aren’t going to buy the excuse that I voted against it because it wasn’t tough enough.”

The amendment was rejected by a vote of 32-65.  Of Republicans present, 26 voted for the amendment and 14 voted against it.  All but five Democrats present voted against the amendment.  The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have created a parliamentary rule against spending bills that contain unauthorized earmarks, thus making it easier to defeat such legislation.

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