This vote was on a motion to instruct conferees on the fiscal 2010 budget resolution to insist that the measure limit any increase in public debt over the life of the bill to an amount no greater than what the country accumulated between 1789 and Jan. 20, 2009.
Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who made the motion, said President Obama’s budget, particularly when taking into account the amount of money already spent by the economic stimulus law, creates too much debt.
“Since our country began in 1789, we have been adding debt to the American people. All this says is that all the debt that has been run up, from 1789 to 2009, through January 20, 2009, that that total debt should not be exceeded during the term of this budget. It seems like a fairly reasonable request. If we do not follow it, we are going to end up passing on a debt to our children that they cannot support. I hope people will support this limitation on the addition of debt to our Nation and to our children,” Gregg said.
Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Gregg’s amendment is unnecessary because it far exceeds the amount of time the budget request covers and that the funding it does contain is nowhere near as much as Gregg is describing.
These “motions to instruct” are intended to provide guidance to the conferees on a bill (conferees are members of the House and Senate who meet to hammer out the two chambers’ differences on a bill). Motions to instruct are not binding on conferees, and as such mostly serve as a platform from which lawmakers can talk about a range of topics, or to put the majority of the chamber on record as endorsing an idea that bears on the conference. The motion was made to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress’ budget priorities in fiscal 2010. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.
By a vote of 40-54, the motion was rejected. Every Republican present voted for the motion. All but one Democrat present voted against the motion. The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have instructed conferees on the budget resolution to prohibit creating more debt over the life of the bill than the nation has incurred since 1789.