(H.R. 3644, H.R. 1612) A bill authorizing funding for two programs intended to educate the public about water resources issues, as well as a separate bill requiring the Interior Department to establish an office to coordinate Public Land Service Corps (PLSC) programs (The PLSC provides for youth volunteer opportunities in national parks) -- On the resolution setting time limit for debate and determining which amendments could be offered to both bills
This was a vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and determining which amendments could be offered to two different bills. The first bill, H.R. 3644, would authorize funding for an environmental literacy grant program (which would educate the American public about water resources issues) and additional funding for an environmental education program "promoting stewardship" of coastal and marine resources for students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. Priority for funding in these programs would be given to given to the Great Lakes states, U.S. territories, Alaska, and mid-Atlantic states. The measure authorized as much money "as is necessary" to be spent on these programs.
The second bill, H.R. 1612, would require the Interior Department to establish an office to coordinate Public Land Service Corps (PLSC) programs. The PLSC provides youth with volunteer opportunities relating to repair and restoration projects in national parks. H.R. 1612 would also officially change the name of the Corps from the "Public Lands Corps (PLC)" to the "Public Lands Service Corps (PLSC)." That bill would also remove annual $12 million limit on funding for the PLSC.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) argued the bills would improve the public's scientific understanding of a number of environmental issues: "Our society is faced with a fundamental lack of scientific understanding, where special interests on all sides frequently undermine the vast scientific consensus on key issues simply by flashy public relations campaigns. We need to make sure that our country is the world leader in innovation and science in order to ensure that our country can overcome new challenges and protect its public health and natural wonders."
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) did not address the bills for which the resolution set the terms for debate, but rather criticized the process by which the Democratic leadership had planned to debate and vote on health care legislation. Under this process -- which the Democrats later chose not to use -- the House would vote on a resolution setting the terms for floor debate on a bill making changes to the Senate-passed health care measure. When the House passed that resolution, the Senate health care bill would have been "deemed passed" by the House. The House would then have voted on the bill making the changes to the Senate health care reform legislation. Republicans sharply criticized this procedure as undemocratic, although both parties have used the tactic to pass major legislation. Diaz-Balart said: "On Sunday, it is expected that the majority will deem the [Senate health care] bill passed, and in a few days it would be law, the signature issue of this President and this congressional majority. You would think, Madam Speaker, that they would proudly embrace their signature accomplishment. You would think that they would welcome debate on it. But they do not, because they know that the Senate bill is fatally flawed. The American people deserve a full and complete debate in the House on the Senate health care bill, but they won't get it."
The House agreed to the resolution setting a time limit for debate and determining which amendments could be offered to these different bills by a vote of 236-171. 235 Democrats and 1 Republican voted "yea." 165 Republicans and 6 Democrats voted "nay." As a result, the House proceeded to floor debate on a bill authorizing funding for two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs intended to improve water resources education, as well as a bill requiring the Interior Department to establish an office to coordinate Public Land Service Corps (PLSC) programs.