This was a vote on a resolution allowing the House to bring up and vote on legislation under a procedure known as a "motion to suspend the rules."
Motions to suspend the rules limit time allowed for debate, and prohibit members from offering amendments. A two-thirds majority vote is required to approve the motion and pass a bill, rather than the usual majority. House rules, however, only allow the chamber to use this procedure to consider to legislation on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. In order bring up bills under suspension of the rules on any other day, the House must first pass a resolution allowing it to do so. The Democratic majority had tentatively scheduled a vote of major health care legislation on Sunday. This resolution enabled the House to carry out legislative business until that vote occurred.
Republicans did not address the resolution directly, but rather used the opportunity to criticize the proposed health care overhaul. They also criticized the process by which the House would debate and vote on the health care reform bill. Under this process, the House would vote on a resolution setting the terms for floor debate on a bill making changes to the Senate-passed health care measure. When the House passed that resolution, the Senate health care bill would be "deemed passed" by the House. The House would then vote on the bill making the changes to the Senate health care reform legislation. Republicans sharply criticized this procedure as undemocratic, although both parties have used the tactic to pass major legislation.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) bristled at Republican criticisms and urged adoption of the resolution: "Give me a break. That somehow Republican ideas have helped anybody in this country dealing with the high cost of insurance, it's ridiculous….I mean, this is crazy. The fact is that people are struggling to pay for their health insurance. And people who pay for it ought to be able to get the insurance that they think they're going to get. We have a situation now where it's not just we have to worry about the uninsured; we have to worry about people with insurance who all of a sudden find themselves sick or a loved one sick and find for crazy reasons that they are somehow going to be denied coverage."
Rep. Paul Broun(R-GA) assailed Democratic efforts to pass their health care reform bill: "I want to ask three questions of my Democratic colleagues: Are you so arrogant that you know what's best for the American people? Are you so ignorant to be oblivious to the wishes of the American people? Three-fourths of America does not want this bill. Are you so incompetent that you ignore the Constitution; that you have to use tricks and deception to ram down the throats of the American people something that they absolutely do not want?"
The House agreed to the resolution by a vote of 232-187. 231 Democrats and 1 Republican voted "yea." 171 Republicans and 16 Democrats voted "nay." As a result, the House was able to bring up legislation on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday under a procedure that limits debate time and prohibits amendments.