This vote was on a bill that would create a non-profit corporation to attract foreign tourists to the United States. It also would stipulate that the Capitol Police, the special force that guards the U.S. Capitol, is an agency of the legislative branch.
Republicans had threatened to hold up its consideration indefinitely with a filibuster, causing Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., to file what is known as a “cloture motion,” which, in essence, is a vote on bringing debate on an issue to a close.
If the Senate votes to “invoke cloture” – or bring debate to a close – 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 senators.
The bill would fund this new tourism entity by assessing a $10 fee on those who use the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of certain countries (mostly European) to visit the United States for no more than three months without a visa.
The bill is a particular priority for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., because Las Vegas and its businesses are particularly dependent on tourism for revenue. Tourism to the United States has been in decline since security was tightened following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He worked together with Republican John Ensign of Nevada to pass the bill.
“Think about all we have in America that we can advertise to the rest of the world that may not have thought about it. I didn’t think about going up to Vancouver and British Columbia, but those ads spurred my interest in it, and I am sure they have for many Americans and other people around the world. Tourism-related jobs can be created simply by spreading the word about the wonderful destinations that are literally scattered across the United States of America, and we can do it without raising taxes on hard-working American families or by digging ourselves even further into debt,” Ensign said.
No one spoke against the bill.
By a vote of 76-20, the Senate voted to bring debate to a close. Every Democrat present voted to end debate. Of Republicans present, 19 voted to end debate and 20 voted against not to. The end result is that debate was brought to a close on a bill that would create a non-profit entity to promote U.S. tourism overseas.