This vote was on bringing debate to a close (known as "invoking cloture") on a bill that would provide $410 billion in spending for most federal departments and agencies, ranging from the Agriculture Department to the Transportation Department.
If the Senate votes to “invoke cloture” then lawmakers must either hold a vote on the legislation, amendment or motion in question, or move on to other business. This type of motion is most often called on contentious legislation where the leadership is concerned that consideration could be held up indefinitely by a handful of politicians.
In this case, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed the motion after days of debate over Republican attempts to change spending priorities and policy initiatives that Democrats had laid out on a broad array of issues, ranging from whether to give residents of Washington, D.C. full voting representation in the House, to whether to remove members of Congress' automatic pay raise. They also offered several amendments that sought to reduce the level of spending in the bill, particularly considering how much money was spent by the economic stimulus bill (nearly $1 trillion).
Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, echoed these complaints.
"I am speaking against it today because of its sheer size. It is a $408 billion bill. But when you account for the previous bills that have already passed appropriations this fiscal year for defense, military construction, veterans affairs, and homeland security, the bottom line is for fiscal year 2009 we are going to spend $1 trillion. Passage of this bill will mark the first time in U.S. history that our regular appropriations process, funding Government in the routine and regular order, will surpass $1 trillion," Hutchison said.
Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said America is a large country with ongoing needs, which this bill seeks to meet.
"I ask the fundamental question: Will the United States be better off in the next year, and will the Federal Government be in a better position to help lead our country out of this deep recession, if we pass this bill? The answer is obviously, yes. It is in America’s best interests to close the book on the last administration and to help the new administration hit the ground running," Inouye said. "Now is not the time to relitigate past policy battles. Now is the time to clear the decks and look to the future."
By a vote of 62-35, the motion was agreed to. All but three Democrats present voted for the motion. All but eight Republicans present voted against the motion. The end result is that the motion carried, debate was brought to a close, and the Senate proceeded to a final vote on a $410 billion bill that would fund most domestic agencies in fiscal 2009.