This was a vote on a motion to suspend the rules and pass legislation making veterinarians eligible for federal loan repayment programs. 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.
Specifically, this bill made individuals pursuing veterinary public health degrees eligible for existing loan repayment programs that were already available to professionals in other public health fields. The measure also made institutions offering veterinary public health degrees eligible for federal grant money.
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) urged support for the bill: “Food animal veterinarians have a vital role in our Nation's public health, and experts have informed us that there is, in fact, a shortage. This shortage could negatively affect our Nation's public health, including the safety of our Nation's food. We expect that this legislation will help greatly in solving that problem.”
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) argued: “Public health veterinarians are our frontline of defense against another outbreak. They inspect our slaughterhouses, prevent a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak from devastating our economy and our agriculture industry, and protect our citizens against the threat of bioterrorism.”
While no members spoke in opposition to this bill, a majority of Republicans voted against it. Calls to Republican offices were not returned as of press time. The Republican Study Committee—a coalition of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives—published a report outlining “potential conservative concerns.” For example, the report contended that federal programs like those authorized by this bill “are the types of programs that conservatives should be looking to terminate as opposed to expanding eligibility for veterinarians and related institutions of higher
learning.” This report also argued that the bill expanded the size of the federal government because it “expands the scope of grant and loan re-payment programs…to statutorily recognize veterinarians.”
The House agreed to the motion to suspend the rules and pass this bill by a vote of 280-138. All 185 Democrats present and 95 Republicans voted “yea.” 138 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation making individuals pursuing veterinary public health degrees eligible for existing loan repayment programs—and making institutions offering veterinary public health degrees eligible for federal grant money.