This vote was on passage of H.R. 1752, which would have allowed the House Administration Committee to regulate the payment schedule for employees of the House of Representatives to conform to usual accounting practices. The payment schedule for employees of the House was the last day of each month. Under H.R. 1752, the House Administration Committee would have been given the authority to set an alternative pay schedule, such as bi-weekly or semi-monthly. Both the House Inspector General and Chief Administrative Officer had advised the House that the last day of the month pay system was inconsistent with the rest of the federal government and also required deviations from commonly use business software. The Congressional Budget Office had estimated that it would cost approximately one million dollars over a two year period to modify the relevant computer systems to make the change to bi-weekly payments.
Rep. Davis (D-CA) was leading the Democratic support for the measure. She said H.R. 1752 would provide the flexibility to allow the House Administration Committee to change the payment date to “be more responsive to the needs of our employees, many of whom have expressed their frustration about the current system. Furthermore, this bill will give us the opportunity to be more consistent with employees in the Senate, the executive branch, and most of the private sector with regard to paydays.”
Rep. Lungren (R-CA), the Ranking Republican on the Committee took no formal position. He did note: “(P)reliminary financial assessments suggest that after incurring up-front transition costs, this change may reduce overpayments over time and reduce errors by more easily distributing the burden of incorporating payment changes into the system.” Lungren emphasized that the legislation “simply grants the Committee on House Administration the authority to change the pay cycle and does not in and of itself authorize any changes . . . It is thus important that the committee granting this authority will act cautiously and only after soliciting and evaluating the feedback of the House community.”
A measure very similar to H.R. 1752 had easily passed the House the previous year, although it did not eventually become law. The Democratic majority anticipated that this measure would again be approved easily. The House Republican minority leadership had been expressing its objections to the manner in which the Democratic majority had been conducting legislative business generally during the congressional session. These objections had become especially frequent during the period prior to the time the vote on H.R. 1752 occurred, when the House was debating a number of spending bills. One of the ways in which these objections were expressed was by having Republican members vote against routine measures such as H.R. 1752.
Since the Democratic majority did not anticipate that this would be a controversial vote, it was considered under a House procedure whereby the usual rules are suspended and debate is limited. Under this procedure a two-thirds vote it required for passage, rather than the usual majority. The vote was 282-144. Two hundred and forty Democrats and forty-two Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred thirty-five Republicans and nine Democrats voted “nay”. Since the two-thirds vote required under this procedure was not achieved, the measure that would have allowed the House Administration Committee to establish a different schedule for paying the salaries of House of Representative staff did not pass. The result did not prevent the measure from being brought up again under regular House procedures, which would require only a majority vote for passage.