This was a vote on a motion to end debate (known as a “cloture motion”) on the motion to bring up (known as a “motion to proceed”) legislation that would provide $7 billion for disaster relief for states that were affected by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene, and would also reimpose sanctions on Myanmar. Those sanctions had expired in July, 2011. (This vote took place on September 12, 2011.)
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) urged support for the measure: “We [Vermont] are a little state. We are 660,000 people. We are a state that has sent volunteers all over the country where people have been hit by earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding, but now Vermont has been hit. I was born in Vermont. My family came to Vermont in the 1800s. The only thing that could even begin to match what we have seen were the horrible floods of 1927. I was not alive then, but I remember the stories my parents told me. Certainly in my lifetime we have never seen anything like this. Vermont continues to grapple with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene. It does not make a difference if you are a Republican or a Democrat, all Vermonters are joined together to rebuild after this disaster….In my 37 years in the Senate, we have always dealt with disaster bills together. We haven't cared whether it was a Republican State or a Democratic State or Democratic or Republican President. We have worked across the aisle, in the spirit of bipartisanship, in the best interests of America and in the best tradition of our country. As a nation, can we afford to toss that tradition and cooperation overboard? It is unconscionable that a small number decided to inject politics and political point-scoring into a situation that already is so difficult and so laden with grim realities for so many of our fellow citizens.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) opposed the emergency aid package: “I strongly oppose adding another emergency debt spending bill where we have not carefully examined every penny of it to make sure it is all necessary and appropriate. No one has seen those numbers and the analysis that would justify it. I come from a state that was hammered with the worst series of tornadoes we have ever suffered in Alabama. I have been to those communities and towns and seen those families who have lost all they had, who have lost loved ones and have injured family members. I know we are going to need to have emergency spending for those programs. We have fires in Texas and we also have flooding. We know that. We have certain money set aside for emergencies already. How much more do we need to spend? I do not know yet. I wish to have some very careful expert analysis done before we announce another $7 billion.”
The vote on the motion to end debate on the motion to bring up the disaster relief and sanctions bill by a vote of 53-33. All 47 Democrats present and 6 Republicans voted “yea.” 33 Republicans voted “nay.” While a majority of senators voted in favor of this motion, a 60-vote majority is required in order for a cloture motion to pass. Since this cloture motion did not receive 60 votes, the measure was rejected. As a result, the Senate effectively rejected a motion to bring up legislation that would provide $7 billion for disaster relief for states that were affected by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene, and would also reimpose sanctions on Myanmar. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), however, vowed to hold a second vote on ending debate on the motion to bring up the bill the next day.