This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Blackburn (R-TN) to H.R. 2997, the bill providing fiscal 2010 year funding for the Department of Agriculture, rural development, and the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies. The amendment would have reduced overall discretionary spending in H.R. 2997 by 5%. Total funding in the bill amounted to $22.9 billion.
Rep. Blackburn, in her statement in support of the amendment, said that the common overriding concern of Americans is “spending, the deficit, and national debt”, that they are asking:”Where is this money coming from? . . . (and) what we can do to stop this excessive spending.” She described her amendment as “a good first step . . . to slow the Federal spending.” Blackburn said that the amount in the spending bill “represents nearly a 12 percent spending increase over last year. And if you add all the stimulus spending, which was $26.5 billion, and the emergency spending, which was $7.9 billion, these programs have benefited from about a 125 percent increase over the past 3 years. So can any of us say that spending 125 percent more than we did on these programs last year in this economic climate is responsible?” Blackburn added that many states have had across-the-board cuts, “and they have used that to rein in the bureaucracy and say tighten your belts.”
Rep. DeLauro (D-CT), the chair of the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed H.R. 2997, opposed the amendment. She said that its impact would be “a cut of $1.1 billion from the bill. Now, this is exactly the wrong time to cut funding for critical programs . . . that protect the public health, bolster food nutrition assistance programs, invest in rural communities, in agriculture research, strengthen animal health and marketing programs, and conserve our natural resources.”
DeLauro went on to say: “(W)hile the bill received a relatively large increase over 2009, it is important to understand that the large majority goes to fund just three priorities: $681 million for higher Women Infant and Children Program participation and for food costs, $560 million for International Food Aid programs, and $299 million for the Food and Drug Administration to better protect our public health. At the same time, the bill made cuts in a number of programs below 2009 totaling $274 million. We also rejected $735 million in increases in the budget request.”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 185-248. One hundred and sixty-three Republicans and twenty-two Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and thirty-five Democrats and thirteen Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the amount in the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration was not reduced.