This was a vote on a motion to approve the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debating legislation providing federal funds for local community service and volunteer efforts. A somewhat different version of this legislation had previously passed the House with bipartisan support. The House was now considering the version of the bill that the Senate had passed. As with most major bills the House considers, it first had to approve a rule for it, before the House could begin debate on the measure.
Rep. Matsui (D-CA), who was among those leading the effort on behalf of the rule and the legislation, said the bill “strengthens our communities, helps educate future generations, teaches our youth to prepare for and respond to natural disasters, and fosters a growth of respect and compassion throughout our entire society . . . (and) will help launch a new era of American service and volunteerism.” She noted that, “with increased numbers of Americans losing jobs (because of the recession), many are turning to service as a way to contribute to their communities and learn new skills.”
During consideration of the previous version of this legislation that the House passed, House Republicans had successfully added language that prohibited funds authorized by it from going to organizations affiliated with groups that promote abortions, as well as political parties and lobbyists, or organizations that have been indicted on voter fraud charges. During Senate consideration of the previous version, that language was removed. The language of the measure the House was now considering did not include that language.
Rep. Foxx (R-NC), who was a leader of the previous effort to prohibit funds for those organization, said that similar language was still needed because “the federal government prohibits . . . funds to be used for abortion as a form of family planning and the federal government should not be paying individuals to volunteer their time at locations that are prohibited from receiving taxpayer dollars . . . .”
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who was a leading the Republican supporter for the previous version of the legislation, said that he “must now oppose the legislation” because of the removal of the provisions that prohibited certain organizations from receiving funds it authorized. Diaz-Balart said that he did not “understand why the majority leadership would force the House to consider legislation that will allow organizations that have been indicted on voter fraud charges to receive taxpayer funds, especially when the House (had previously) overwhelmingly voted to forbid the use of taxpayer funds for such organizations.”
The rule was approved 240-173 along straight party lines. All 240 “aye” votes were cast by Democrats, and all 173 “nay” votes were cast by Republicans. As a result, the House was able to move to debate whether to accept the Senate version of the bill providing funds for local community service and volunteer efforts.