This was a vote to suspend the rules and pass a bill authorizing $6.25 million to be spent annually on a program to monitor nutrients and sediment in the Mississippi River Basin. The program would keep a record of the loss of nutrients and sediment in the Basin over time. It would also identify "major sources of sediment and nutrients within the Basin" -- which could then reduce sediment and nutrient loss.
The majority party in the House schedules bills for floor debate under this procedure known as "suspension of the rules" if the leadership deems them to be non-controversial. Motions to suspend the rules limit time allowed for debate, and prohibit members from offering amendments. A two-thirds vote is required to approve the motion and pass a bill, rather than the usual majority.
Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) argued the bill would help to maintain the health of the Mississippi Rive Basin: "What we're trying to do is put the science in place in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The greatest threat that this great national treasure that we have running through the middle of America, comprising roughly 50 percent of the landmass of our Nation, is the amount of nutrients and sediments that flow into the river basin doing incalculable ecological damage. We've heard of the stories of the dead zone being created in the Gulf of Mexico. Well, 40 percent of the nutrients that are flowing south through the river and ending up deposited in the Gulf, contributing to the dead zone, emanates in the Upper Mississippi River Basin."
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) said: "Based on the history of this legislative proposal, we're not opposing the measure; however, Members should note that today's bill has been changed from prior versions. The 10-year sunset has been removed." The "sunset" refers to the date at which the program would expire without a new bill authorizing additional money to be spent on that program.
The House agreed to the motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill by a vote of 289-121. 240 Democrats and 49 Republicans voted "yea." 117 Republicans and 4 Democrats voted "nay." As a result, the House passed a bill authorizing $6.25 million to be spent annually on a program to monitor nutrients and sediment in the Mississippi River Basin.