This was a vote to set a time limit for debate and determine which amendments could be offered to legislation that would change the way costs are estimated for federal programs that provide loans and other forms of credit. The legislation would generally make those programs appear more expensive than they do currently.
Republicans offered the legislation as part of a series of bills to reform the budget process in Congress. They argued that the budget consistently understates the cost of loan programs. The legislation they offered would require Congress to use “fair value” estimates. Compared to the method the government currently uses, these estimates assume credit programs impose a greater cost on taxpayers.
The bill would also require federal agencies to post online their annual budget requests, and require the operations of government-sponsored companies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to be factored into the federal budget.
Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA) said the bill was meant to “try to align the kind of accounting and budgeting that we do in Washington with the kind of accounting and budgeting that happens in the real world.”
“We know transparency and sound accounting matter,” he said. “We know that it matters on Wall Street. We know that it matters on Main Street. And it matters right here.”
Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) argued that the legislation was an attempt to “artificially inflate the cost of federal credit programs.” Rather than debating this “sham bill,” he said, the House should be focused on legislation that would help stimulate the economy. In addition, Rep. McGovern said, Republicans were stifling debate by trying to bring the bill up under rules that limited the number of amendments that could be offered.
“If some of these recent budget bills are any indication, the House Republican leadership cares more about rigging the budget process just to dismantle the federal safety net instead of actually working to reduce the deficit and at the same time spur job creation,” Rep. McGovern said.
The resolution was passed by a vote of 239-181. Voting “yea” were 235 Republicans and 4 Democrats. Voting “nay” were 181 Democrats. As a result, the House set the stage for a debate with a limited number of amendments on a bill that would change the way costs are estimated for federal programs that provide loans and other forms of credit.