This vote was on an amendment that would have established a commission to study accounting methods that Congress could use to estimate the cost of federal credit programs.
Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) offered the amendment to Republican-sponsored legislation that changed the way costs are estimated for federal credit programs. The Republican bill would require Congress to use “fair value” estimates. Compared to the method the government currently uses, these estimates assume credit programs impose a greater cost on taxpayers.
Rep. Tonko’s amendment would have put off this change until an independent commission, with members appointed by Democrats and Republicans, came up with a recommendation for the best accounting method to use. He noted that Congress hadn’t held a single hearing to gather facts on accounting methods. To make sure “fair value” estimation is the best method, Congress should appoint a commission to study the issue, he said.
“At a time when our housing market has been devastated, when our workforce is struggling to attain the knowledge and skill set it needs in a difficult job market, when small businesses are fighting their way out of the worst recession since our Great Depression, and when our vets are facing a higher jobless rate than the rest of the country, why on Earth would we make a change of this magnitude without consulting with the best budget and accounting minds in our country?” Rep. Tonko said.
Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) objected that Rep. Tonko’s amendment would have the effect of “gutting” the Republican bill. He said that fair value accounting had been studied for many years, including by the House Budget Committee.
“So this bill is not precipitous. This bill is not rash. This bill is not extreme,” Rep. Garrett said. “This bill takes a cautious approach and applies fair value budgeting in those areas where we have the most experience while calling for a further study of those areas in which it makes sense to do study.”
Rep. Tonko’s amendment was defeated by a vote of 187-238. Voting “yea” were 185 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 236 Republicans and 2 Democrats. As a result, the House defeated the effort to establish a commission to study accounting methods that Congress could use to estimate the costs of federal credit programs.