(H.R. 5116) Passage of legislation authorizing $86 billion to be spent over six years on research intended to make the U.S. more competitive in the world, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research
This was a vote on passage of legislation authorizing $86 billion to be spent over six years on research intended to make the U.S. more competitive in the world, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research. Of the $86 billion total, $44 billion would be designated for National Science Foundation programs, while $35 billion would be designated for Energy Department research programs. The bill also authorized $5.4 billion for National Institute of Standards and Technology programs. (The National Institute of Standards and Technology is an agency within the Commerce Department. Its mission to promote competitiveness through scientific and technological research.)
The House first debated H.R. 5116 (legislation which was intended to make the U.S. more competitive in the world) on May 13, one week earlier. Republicans offered a motion to recommit that eliminated all new programs established by the bill (including a loan guarantee program for small manufacturers seeking to improve their competitiveness through technological innovation), and froze spending on existing programs at 2010 levels. (A motion to recommit with instructions is the minority's opportunity to torpedo or significantly change a bill before a final up-or-down vote on the measure. If successful, the motion sends the legislation back to committee with instructions to amend the legislation as specified.) The motion to recommit also would have required colleges and universities receiving funds provided by the bill to allow military recruiters on their campuses. In addition, the motion to recommit prohibited federal funds from being used to view, download, or exchange pornography.
(The motion to recommit effectively put Democrats in a difficult political position. In order to vote against eliminating programs they supported – such as the loan guarantee program described above – they would have to vote against barring federal funds from being used to view and disseminate pornography.)
The Republicans had effectively torpedoed the bill by attaching the anti-pornography provision to the motion to recommit -- which passed with the support of 121 Democrats. Since Republicans had succeeded in making such drastic changes to the measure, Democratic leaders then withdrew the legislation from the House floor without holding a vote on final passage. Since the House had never voted on final passage of the bill, Democrats brought the measure up again as “unfinished business.” Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) then demanded that the motion to recommit be divided into different sections (this rarely used procedure is known as “dividing the question”). Thus, the motion to recommit was split into nine separate parts. Democrats were able to defeat all sections of the motion to recommit that cut funding in the bill. The anti-pornography section passed unanimously. Following votes on the different sections of the GOP motion to recommit, the House proceeded to vote on final passage.
Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) urged support for the bill: “In recent years we have watched as our country has fallen behind in educating our children for the 21st century and developing technology that our neighbors envy. Today's legislation will help to turn these trends around by making the strong investments necessary in research, education and manufacturing.”
No Republicans spoke on the bill prior to the vote on final passage, but during previous debate on May 13, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher argued the bill was fiscally irresponsible: “While I'm certain this bill was drafted with the best of intentions and motivations, I strongly disagree that this is in our nation's best interests. American investments in science and technology cannot operate in a vacuum. We need a broader strategy that prioritizes spending, reduces debt, eliminates deficits, and provides clarity, stability, and the appropriate regulatory environment…But this legislation makes no choices. It simply authorizes more and more spending.”
The House passed the bill by a vote of 262-150. All 245 Democrats present and 17 Republicans voted “yea.” 150 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation authorizing $86 billion to be spent over six years on research intended to make the U.S. more competitive in the world, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research.