The House was in the process of considering the fiscal year 2010 budget that had been agreed to by representatives from the House and Senate. Before the budget, or most other measures, can be considered, the House must first pass a resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debate of the measure. The House Rules Committee presented the rule for the fiscal year 2010 budget on the same day the vote on it was scheduled. House procedures require that a two third approval be given before a rule can be considered on the same day it is presented. This was a vote on a motion to waive that two thirds requirement, and requiring only a majority approval for this accelerated process.
Rep. McGovern (D-MA), who led the effort to obtain the waiver, noted that it was necessary to accelerate approval of the budget, because it was “a critical document (that) comes at a critical time in our country.”
Rep. Dreier (R-CA), who led the opposition to the waiver, described the effort to obtain it as “a mechanism to circumvent House rules in order to hastily cram through legislation.” He agreed that the acceleration of consideration for a budget would be needed if the government were running out of money, but that was not the case here. He also noted that, under the Budget Act, Congress is supposed to approve a budget by April 15, but that date had already passed. Dreier added that the “Democratic leadership wasn't in a hurry when that deadline came and went, and there is no new deadline at all that needs to be met right now . . . (since) the next recess . . . is about a month away . . . .”
Dreier also said: “(T)he only thing that I can figure out is that tomorrow marks the conclusion of the President's first 100 days . . . (but a) problem rises when his party cares more about symbolism and photo opportunities than taking the power of the purse, (and) our constitutional responsibility. . . I would hope that the Democratic leadership would care more about fiscal responsibility than a photo opportunity.”
McGovern responded by noting that the Members had “a full debate” when the House version of the budget resolution was considered. He referenced the fact that this included voting on four separate substitute budgets, which ranged from the one offered by the Congressional Progressive Caucus to the one offered by the conservative Republican Study Committee. McGovern also noted that House Members would have twenty-four hours to review the House-Senate budget agreement that the rule covered, before voting on it.
The motion to waive the two thirds requirement was approved by a vote of 233-191. Two hundred and thirty-two Democrats and one Republican voted “aye”. One hundred and seventy-four Republicans and seventeen Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the two-thirds requirement was waived and the House was immediately able to take up the rule setting the terms for debating the final 2010 budget.