What: All Issues : Health Care : Access to Health Insurance : HR 4851. (Extending expired programs, including those for the unemployed) Motion to kill an amendment that would shift federal funds that had been allocated but never actually spent and use them to pay for a bill to extend expired programs, including those that help the unemployed/On the motion
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HR 4851. (Extending expired programs, including those for the unemployed) Motion to kill an amendment that would shift federal funds that had been allocated but never actually spent and use them to pay for a bill to extend expired programs, including those that help the unemployed/On the motion
senate Roll Call 114     Apr 15, 2010
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This vote was on whether to kill an amendment by Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that would have taken back $20 billion in federal funds that had been allocated but never actually spent, including for rebating the purchase of new fuel efficient cars, and coupons issued to subsidize the cost of purchasing equipment to convert an analog TV signal to digital.  Coburn’s amendment would have applied that money instead to the underlying bill, which would extend for two months certain expired programs, including unemployment insurance benefits. In addition the bill would extend COBRA health insurance subsidies, higher Medicare reimbursements for physicians, national flood insurance and other items. Because of Congressional inaction these benefits had already lapsed for several days and Democrats were eager to push through an extension.  

Coburn’s amendment also would have added other provisions designed to raise revenues by closing what he referred to as tax loopholes, including $1.1 billion Coburn said was paid in farm subsidies to people who are dead; eliminating what Coburn said is a duplicative bus grant program for inner cities; eliminating a resource conservation program Coburn said has outlived its usefulness; eliminating a program that redevelops polluted former industrial sites; repealing water and wastewater treatment projects administered by the Army Corps of Engineers; and other items.

“Oh, I have heard the harsh rhetoric: You don’t care about people who are unemployed because you think we ought to pay for it. You know, I think there are two sets of people we ought to be caring for. I think we should be caring for the unemployed, making sure they have sustenance and their needs fulfilled, as long as they qualify. But I think we should care about those who are going to follow us, those who are going to have to pay back this $18.2 billion,” Coburn said.

Max Baucus, D-Mont., said he agrees that Congress must be fiscally responsible, but that people who are unemployed need help now.

“I agree with him the Nation should turn to serious budget negotiations. Our high budget deficits are unconscionable and must be addressed. We should balance the budget over the life of the business cycle. We should balance the budget as quickly as we possibly can. But we should not balance the budget while in the grips of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Doing that would only put more people out of work,” Baucus said.

By a vote of 53-45, the motion to kill the amendment succeeded.  All but four Democrats present voted to kill the amendment.  Every Republican present voted against killing the amendment.  The end result is that the amendment was killed and the bill went forward without language that would have taken back $20 billion in federal money that had been allocated but never actually spent and raised more money through eliminating certain programs, and used it to pay for a bill to extend expired programs, including those benefiting the unemployed.

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