This was a vote on a resolution outlining the rules for floor debate on three separate bills -- all of which would approve water rights settlements made by native American tribes.
These types of resolutions, drafted by the House Rules Committee (and typically favorable to the majority party, in this case Democrats), set the rules for debate for bills on the House floor, including how long the bill will be debated and what, if any, amendments may be offered. This particular rule made in order only certain amendments, a restriction that drew protests from Republicans.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) defended the rule, saying: "Each bill allows for the consideration of a separate amendment...which is debatable for 10 minutes. The rule also allows a motion to recommit, with or without instructions, for each of the three bills….This is a good rule. I urge my colleagues to support it today."
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) accused the Democratic majority of abandoning a promise to allow for full, open debate, saying: "I sincerely doubt that an open rule would garner more than a handful of amendments. It would allow the majority to say for the first time, and to prove, at least offer some evidence, that they are living up to their pledge to run an open Congress. I believe the real reason is that the majority is afraid of an open debate even on uncontroversial bills, and so they restrict debate consistently. It has become their standard operating procedure to close debate in the House. It is unfortunate, but it is a fact."
McGovern quickly shot back: "I appreciate how well my colleague on the Rules Committee adheres to the Republican talking points, but I will again reiterate that all the amendments that were brought to the Rules Committee last night were made in order."
The House agreed to the resolution by a vote of 239-175. 239 Democrats voted "yea." All Republicans present and 8 Democrats voted "nay." As a result, the House was able to begin floor debate on three bills to approve water rights settlements negotiated with Native American tribes.