What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Curbing Presidential Power : HR 4851. (Extending unemployment benefits and other items) On killing an amendment that would take back at least $20 billion in money that had been allocated for other uses but never spent, and also add other provisions to raise revenue/On the motion
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HR 4851. (Extending unemployment benefits and other items) On killing an amendment that would take back at least $20 billion in money that had been allocated for other uses but never spent, and also add other provisions to raise revenue/On the motion
senate Roll Call 113     Apr 15, 2010
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This vote was on killing an amendment by Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that would have taken back $20 billion in federal money that had been allocated for other uses but never spent, and applied it to the underlying bill which would extend for two months certain expired programs, including unemployment insurance benefits. In addition the bill would extend COBRA health insurance subsidies, higher Medicare reimbursements for physicians, national flood insurance and other items. Because of Congressional inaction these benefits had already lapsed for several days and Democrats were eager to push through an extension. 

Coburn’s amendment also would have added other provisions designed to raise revenues by closing what he referred to as tax loopholes (however he did not explain which ones they were). 

“ I wish to leave with one last point on this amendment. When we say there is nothing else that we can eliminate in the Federal Government to pay for this legislation, what we are saying is all the waste, all the fraud, all the duplication is more important than helping people with unemployment insurance. If it was less important, we would eliminate it and pay for the unemployment. But by not paying for it, by not making the choice to pay for it, what we have said is we have elevated everything else above this as a priority. We refuse to do what every other business, what every other family, what every other organization, except the Federal Government, has to do; that is, make tough choices,” Coburn said.

Max Baucus, D-Mont., said beyond any other arguments, the House of Representatives has “made it clear” that if the Senate passes Coburn’s amendment, they would just strip it out and send it back to the Senate to vote on again.

“So [adopting the amendment] would simply further delay the needed aid to unemployed Americans struggling to get by. So I urge Senators to vote for the motion to table so we can temporarily extend the benefits that so many people justly deserve,” Baucus said.

By a vote of 50-48, the amendment was killed.  Of Democrats present, 48 voted to kill the amendment (including the most progressive members) and seven voted against killing the amendment.  Every Republican present voted against killing the amendment.  The end result is that the Senate killed the amendment and continued debating a bill that would extend expiring programs, primarily those benefiting the unemployed.

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