H.R. 569 (Water Quality Investment Act), Price of Georgia amendment that would prohibit the bill's authorization levels from taking effect unless the cost of those provisions would be offset /On agreeing to the amendment
house Roll Call 123 Mar 07, 2007
This vote was on an amendment to a $1.7 billion to replace aging sewer systems over five years. The legislation would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to authorize grants to help local governments increase municipal sewer overflow controls and prevent untreated sewage from being dumped into rivers and other public areas.
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) proposed an amendment that would have required the bill to include fiscal offsets by spending reductions or revenue-increasing measures in other parts of the federal budget.
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) said during a floor speech supporting the bill that over 700 cities around the country have what are known as combined sewer overflow systems, which means they collect wastewater and storm runoff in the same pipes and do not have the capacity of more modern infrastructure. During heavy storms, they often back up and overflow, sending untreated wastewater into the streets and rivers.
"Raw sewage seeps into basements, public parks and other areas where young children play. Public health is severely impacted," Matsui said, and not investing in these upgrades could create a public health problem far more expensive.
Price didn't disagree with the need for the bill in a speech on the House floor, just how Congress was going to fund it. His amendment would have required that any new spending authorized in this bill would be required to be offset to make it so that there would be no net increase in federal spending.
"It is a matter of accountability," Price said.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) responded that Price's amendment "confuses the issue of authorization of appropriations and actual funding of these programs through the appropriations process."
All federal programs must be authorized before money is appropriated for them. This bill is such an authorization, and thus no money was to be appropriated at this time. According to Johnson, Price's amendment would require that any authorization find a corresponding offset in the federal budget, regardless of whether the program ever receives any funding. Democrats maintained that any provision to require offsets (also known as pay-as-you-go rules) should be debated as part of the funding bill itself, not in the program to authorize it.
Price responded that adopting his amendment would put the House on record that any money that would result from the bill should be offset.
A majority of the House did not agree. By a vote of 166-260, lawmakers defeated his amendment. Only one Democrat joined with 165 Republicans in voting for it, and 32 Republicans crossed party lines to vote against it. Thus, the $1.7 billion legislation to replace aging sewer systems went forward without a provision to require future appropriations to be offset by cutting other programs or raising taxes.
To find out how your Members of Congress voted on this bill, use the form on the right.
Find your Member of