What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : Assisting Crime Impacted Communities : H.R. 2799. Fiscal 2004 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations/Vote to Grant the Minority Party More Leeway in Offering Amendments and Debating Provisions in the Bill.
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H.R. 2799. Fiscal 2004 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations/Vote to Grant the Minority Party More Leeway in Offering Amendments and Debating Provisions in the Bill.
house Roll Call 402     Jul 22, 2003
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

High levels of partisanship have been a major feature of legislative politics in the 107th Congress. Both House and Senate Democrats (both in the minority party) have argued that Republican Leaders have prevented meaningful debate on a host of issues ranging from the creation of the new Department of Homeland Security to extending the child tax credit to low income families. At issue here is another piece of legislation in which debate on the floor of the House, in the view of Democrats, was excessively restricted by Republican leaders. Under the rules of debate drafted by the House Rules Committee-in essence an arm of the majority party leadership-the 2004 Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations bill was to be considered by the "Committee of the Whole" (the Committee of the Whole includes at least 100 House members who debate legislation on the House floor according to more restrictive rules of debate in committee). As a general rule, the procedural powers granted to minority party members in the Committee of the Whole-their ability to offer amendments, debate a measure at length, or send the legislation back to committee-are severely restricted relative to their power during debate when they are constituted in their capacity as the full House rather than in their capacity as the Committee on the Whole. On this vote, Representative Sanders (I-VT) motioned to rise from the Committee on the Whole. Had the motion passed, the rules of debate on the appropriations bill would have been liberalized. Progressives voted in favor of the motion to rise as a way to liberalize floor debate on the underlying appropriations bill. Specifically, Progressives hoped to strike a provision in the spending bill which, in their view, seriously restricts the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to prosecute firearms dealers who knowingly sell guns to convicted felons or other individuals who, by virtue of their criminal records or mental handicaps, are not legally permitted to own a firearm. Despite support from Progressives, the motion to rise was defeated 77-335 and the restrictive rules of debate on the 2004 Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations bill remained intact.

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