This vote was on an amendment by John Thune, R-S.D., that would have reduced spending in a stopgap appropriations bill by 5 percent, except for defense, homeland security and veterans programs. The amendment was offered to a stopgap appropriations bill – known as a “continuing resolution” – intended to bridge the gap for keeping the federal government funded between the end of the fiscal year 2010, which ends on Sept. 30, and the beginning of December 2010. This continuing resolution was necessary to keep the government functioning because Congress could not finish its appropriations bills, which must be passed each year. This gave Congress a little bit more time – specifically, through December 3rd -- to finish its appropriations bills.
Thune said his amendment would hold most categories of spending to the levels of the prior year. He said that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that his amendment would save about $22 billion.
“What I am trying to do today is seek the support of my colleagues to at least take a measured step in reducing discretionary spending. My amendment simply seeks to reduce by 5 percent accounts not related to defense, homeland security, or veterans. This would not affect funding for the START treaty or any of the other new provisions in this continuing resolution,” Thune said. “While this is a modest number and it is not going to solve our debt problems overnight, it is a necessary first step to reduce spending.”
Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said Thune’s amendment would be disruptive and damage programs worthy of funding.
“There are a number of reasons the Thune amendment is a bad idea. A 5-percent cut across the board may seem reasonable, small, and not a big cut. But it is a devastating cut when Members understand the specific programmatic impact,” Inouye said. “Members may try and hide from taking responsibility for the devastating impacts of a generic across-the-board cut of this magnitude, but I am standing before my colleagues now and putting everyone in this Chamber on notice for what the actual impact of passing this amendment will be. For starters, let me discuss America’s security outside of the Department of Homeland Security and outside of the department that handles the southwest border. Cutting funding by 5 percent would mean a loss of $1.5 billion for the Department of Justice. We depend on Federal law enforcement to protect Americans from terrorism and violent crime and uphold the rule of law.”
By a vote of 48-51, Thune’s amendment was rejected. Every Republican present voted for Thune’s amendment. Of Democrat present, eight voted for Thune’s amendment and 49 voted against it. The end result is that Thune’s amendment to cut most federal spending by 5 percent was rejected, and the continuing resolution went forward with its funding intact.