This vote was on bringing debate to a close on a bill that would extend for varying lengths of time, mostly around a year, several programs that would otherwise have expired within a month. These include unemployment benefits, heath insurance subsidies for the unemployed, small business loans, flood insurance and other items.
Republicans had threatened to hold up his 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.
Republicans spent much of their time during debate on this bill offering amendments to use unspent money allocated by the 2009 economic stimulus law to pay for the bill’s spending either in whole or in part. They were all defeated.
“We have had a good debate. The Senate considered this bill on 7 separate days over the course of 2 workweeks. We have considered more than 30 amendments. We conducted a dozen roll call votes. It is now time to bring this debate to a close,” said Max Baucus, D-Mont. “This is not just some technical bill; this measure helps real people. Failure to enact this bill would cause real hardship. Failure to enact this bill would cost jobs.”
George LeMieux, R-Fla., said Congress should do the “right thing” and pay for the bill.
“At some point, even though these programs may be good for your State, a Senator has an obligation to stand up and say: No more, no more spending our kids’ future, no more putting debt on the next generation, no more bankrupting the promise of this country. No more. We cannot afford it,” LeMieux said.
By a vote of 66-34, the Senate voted to bring debate to a close. All but one Democrat present voted to bring debate to a close. Of Republicans present, 8 voted to bring debate to a close and 33 voted against. The end result is that the Senate voted to close debate on a bill that would extend expiring programs, including those intended to help the unemployed, and to move to final passage of the bill.