This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) that would allow funding provided by a Defense Department spending bill to be used to convert jobs held by federal government employees to private, federally contracted positions without first providing Congress with an inventory of existing contracts. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Specifically, the underlying Defense bill prohibited the Defense Department from converting jobs held by federal government employees to private, federally contracted positions without first providing Congress with an inventory of existing contracts. Sessions’ amendment would remove that prohibition.
Sessions urged support for his amendment: “ My amendment would strike section 8101 of this legislation, which as drafted prohibits the use of funds in the underlying bill to convert any functions performed by federal employees to private competition… Lifting the current moratorium will reform the way the Department of Defense does business, allowing the flexibility to manage the most effective and efficient cost ways in supporting the mission of the Department of Defense. The role of government should be to govern, not to operate business inside the government….Our nation's unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent. We must allow the private sector the ability to create jobs without an unfair disadvantage….If competition is deemed fair, it doesn't matter who wins. As long as both sides are allowed equal opportunity for the job, the taxpayer ultimately wins.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) opposed Session’s amendment: “…Certainly no one will deny that some, perhaps many, of the private contracts that the Pentagon lets have been wasteful. Many have not been, but certainly an inventory so that Congress can keep a closer eye on it is calculated to reduce the waste, to reduce the wasteful expenditures, to enable us to have better oversight. So why you would want to change that? And I am given to understand that this provision originated with the Republican Congresses during the Bush administration, and, frankly, it was a good innovation. Congress ought to be able to watch more closely what any government agency that is spending the kind of money the Pentagon is spending, hundreds of billions of dollars, much of it to private contractors--we ought to be able to watch what they're doing, watch what they're doing more closely, keep an eye on it, and be able to rein it in and say, hey, wait a minute, that contract is being well administered but that one isn't; that contract we have a lot of questions about. So why would we want to eliminate that provision that has worked well?”
The House passed this amendment by a vote of 217-204. Voting “yea” were 215 Republicans and 2 Democrats. 185 Democrats and 19 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment that would allow funding provided by a Defense Department spending bill to be used to convert jobs held by federal government employees to private, federally contracted positions without first providing Congress with an inventory of existing contracts. In order for this amendment to become law, however, it would have to pass the Senate.