This vote was on an amendment by John McCain, R-Ariz., that would delete funding for agencies included in a fiscal 2009 spending bill and instead replace it with a funding freeze at fiscal 2008 levels. The amendment was offered to the bill that funds most federal agencies in fiscal 2009.
McCain said his amendment is necessary to rein in spending, considering America’s present economic crisis.
“I think it is important for us to look at what this amendment is trying to do, which is simply maintain the same level of funding as last year, in the context of what the American people are facing today. Unemployment in the previous speaker’s State is now at 10 percent, home values continue to plummet, the stock market yesterday took another serious dive, as more and more of Americans’ savings, 401(k)s are dramatically reduced, with massive job layoffs, in a very serious economic situation,” McCain said.
Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said this bill is necessary in order to finish the unfinished business that the Bush administration left when George Bush left office. Inouye said no major legislation was added at the last minute, members have had ample time to review the text, and Congress must complete its annual appropriations business.
“If the Senate were now to determine that we should not complete our work on the fiscal year 2009 appropriations bills at this juncture … all the efforts of the Committee in reviewing the budget request, the hearings and staff review, the countless meetings with executive branch officials, the mark ups and the ensuing direction that comes with this bill would be wasted,” Inouye said. “Even in these tough economic times, there has been cost growth in managing our government. We all know that it costs more to run these agencies this year than it did in 2008. But under [this amendment] agencies have to cut necessary functions to cover the higher costs due to inflation.”
By a vote of 32-63, the amendment was rejected. All but two Democrats present voted against the amendment. Of Republicans present, 30 voted for the amendment and 9 voted against it. The end result is that the Senate turned back an amendment that would have eliminated funding increases for most agencies in fiscal 2009 and instead instituted a spending freeze that would have kept funding at 2008 levels.