This vote was on whether to allow to go forward an amendment by Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., that would have frozen federal government spending levels between fiscal year 2011 and 2013 at the levels established by the Senate for fiscal 2010. The amendment was offered to a bill that would extend several expired tax provisions, unemployment insurance benefits, Medicaid assistance to states, Medicaid doctor payment increases and other items.
When Sessions’ amendment was offered, Max Baucus, D-Mont., tried to use a parliamentary maneuver to defeat it as violating the Senate’s budget rules. Sessions then made a motion that the rules be waived in this case, which is what this vote was on.
Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who cosponsored the amendment and who therefore supported waiving the rules, said the amendment is a modest step toward reducing federal spending.
“This is the bottom line: On kitchen tables all across this country families are cutting their budgets. In county courthouses all over this country people are cutting budgets. In State legislatures all over this country people are cutting budgets. In city council chambers all over this country people are cutting budgets,” McCaskill said. “Then we get to Washington, and what we are trying to do here is not cut a budget. That is the amazing part about this. This does not cut a penny. All it does is curb the growth.”
Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said this amendment has been repeatedly rejected in the past.
“I must admit I find myself somewhat at a loss for words. There are only so many ways to highlight the negative impact of this amendment on current services and the President’s initiatives, while explaining how it does not address real deficit reduction,” Inouye said. “I thank my colleagues for rejecting this amendment in the past, and I certainly hope we will do so again.”
By a vote of 57-41, the motion was rejected. Though more voted yes than no, this type of vote requires 60 in order to be considered passed. Every Republican present voted to waive the rules and allow Sessions to offer his amendment. Of Democrats present, 16 voted to waive the rules and 40 voted against (including the most progressive members). The end result is that the rules were not waived, the amendment was defeated, and the bill went forward without language that would have frozen spending for the next three years.