This was a vote on a motion to suspend the rules and pass legislation that would have allowed the Treasury Department to provide financial assistance to non-profit organizations that offer legal assistance to homeowners who were facing foreclosure.
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.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) urged support for the bill: “People are trying very hard to fight these battles alone. They can't get in touch with the [legal] services….we are allowing these homeowners to swim out there alone by themselves with no help. Let's help the American people. This is the least that we can do…We can not only send this message, but we could stand up and demand that they get the kind of help that will keep them and their families in their homes.”
Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) argued that the bill was fiscally irresponsible, and amounted to a “bailout.” He contended that any funding to help those facing home foreclosures should come from the Legal Services Corporation, which is federally funded and provides legal aid to the poor: “Taxpayers are already paying for legal services for the impoverished. It's the Legal Services Corporation. And the appropriation [funding level] for this year, at least as it currently is listed, is $440 million…If the [Democratic] majority is upset that there is not enough money going to legal services for the poor, whether it's for foreclosures or other legal issues, the right path would be…asking for additional funds within an already existing process.”
While a majority of members voted in favor of this bill, a two-thirds majority vote is required for passage under suspension of the rules. Since this bill did not receive a two-thirds majority vote, the measure failed. The vote on the bill was 210-145. Voting “yea” were 204 Democrats and 6 Republicans. 140 Republicans and 5 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected legislation that would have allowed the Treasury Department to provide financial assistance to non-profit organizations that offer legal assistance to homeowners who were facing foreclosure.