This vote was on whether to suspend the Senate’s rules that govern when amendments can be offered to allow Scott Brown, R-Mass., to offer an amendment. Brown wanted to offer an amendment that would have used unspent money from the 2009 economic stimulus law to pay for the underlying bill, which would extend federal unemployment benefits until Nov. 30, applied retroactively to June 2.
“While it is clear that it appears we have the votes to advance this measure and it will pass the Senate, I have felt—and I have talked about it for a month now—that there is a better way. I stand before you to propose an alternative that will be fully paid for by using the bank account and not the credit card because rather than putting the cost on that credit card and passing it on to our children and grandchildren, it is the great-grandchildren who are being affected as well,” Brown said. “As I said, my amendment pays for the cost of extending unemployment insurance by rescinding unobligated stimulus funds and cutting other stimulus funds that are estimated not to be used for years. We have already heard the stories about the waste and the fluff. Let’s get the money out the door right now. Let’s put it to work right now. If this is an emergency as is being said, then let’s get the money that is not being used out the door right now.”
Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said everybody agrees that, generally speaking, it’s not good to have a deficit and that something should be done about it. But he noted that those who are complaining about deficit spending for the unemployed had no problem giving help to corporations.
“We gave hundreds of billions of dollars to those interests at the top of the economic ladder, who nearly ran the country right into the ditch. But those at the bottom of the ladder, who are out of work, who are unemployed, and who are having trouble, that is where they say they are making their last stand on deficits,” Dorgan said. “So let me try to understand this with a review. We are told the deficit is too high; that we cannot give help to the unemployed in the manner we used to give help to the unemployed. We always did that when there was an economic down turn. We have always done that. But, oh, by the way, what we need to do is to repeal the estate tax for the wealthiest individuals in America. I don’t know. I took mathematics in a high school senior class of nine students, and I passed it at least. I can understand how things add up now and then. But I don’t know how that adds up at all.”
By a vote of 42-56, the motion to permit Brown’s amendment to be offered was rejected. Every Republican present voted to allow his amendment. All but two Democrats present voted against allowing his amendment. The end result is that Brown’s amendment to pay for an extension of federal unemployment benefits with unspent stimulus funds was not allowed to be offered, and the amendment died as a result.