(H. Res. 250) A bill providing funds for AmeriCorps, faith-based organizations, and many other local community service and volunteer efforts - - on whether the House should move to an immediate vote on the resolution setting the terms for debate of the measure
H.R. 1388, the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act (the “GIVE” Act) provided federal funds for local community service and volunteer efforts. This was a vote on “ordering the previous question”, or bringing to an immediate vote, the “rule” setting the terms of debate of the legislation. Rep. Matsui (D-CA), described the GIVE Act as “bipartisan legislation . . . that strengthens our communities helps educate our future generations, teaches our youth to prepare for and respond to unthinkable tragedies and fosters the growth of respect and compassion throughout our entire society... The legislation emphasizes the critical role of service in meeting the national priorities of emergency and disaster preparedness . . . .”
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who was responsible for setting the strategy on the bill for the Republicans, supported the substance of the legislation and said that he was ”pleased that the Committee on Education and Labor, worked in a bipartisan manner . . . to make the programs more effective and efficient, responding to State and local needs . . . .”
The bill was being considered by the House just after press reports surfaced about multimillion bonuses going to executives of AIG. The federal government was spending hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out AIG, and news of these bonuses created protests in Congress. The Republicans wanted to act immediately and attach an amendment to The GIVE Act, since it was the pending matter in the House, which would require the Treasury Department to implement a plan to recoup the bonuses and to monitor future bonuses. The rule for H.R. 1388 that was being considered allowed for only a limited number of amendments to be offered to the GIVE Act, none of which related to AIG bonuses. The Democrats wanted to pass the GIVE Act without any AIG-related amendment, and announced a meeting for later in the day to develop a legislative response to the AIG bonus issue.
In response to the Republican opposition to ordering the previous question and voting on the rule, Matsui said “both sides of this aisle are absolutely outraged about what happened (at AIG). And we will be taking action immediately. But let's get the GIVE Act through. Let's do the rule on this and move forward.”
If the vote to order the previous question had failed, it would effectively have meant that the House was not going to approve the rule. The consequence of a negative vote would have been that the Republicans could have offered the AIG amendment to the GIVE Act. The motion to order the previous question passed by a vote of 221-182. All 221 “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Eight other Democrats joined 174 Republicans in voting “nay”. As a result, the House moved to an immediate vote on the rule to the GIVE Act which prevented the amendment relating to AIG bonuses from being offered to that bill.