This vote was on whether to allow an amendment by Judd Gregg, R-N.H., that sought to prevent a deficit increase as a result of a funding increase for the Cash for Clunkers program through a change in the Senate’s budget allocations. The amendment was offered to a bill that would add $2 billion to the popular “Cash for Clunkers” program, which gives vouchers to people to trade in older, less fuel-efficient cars for newer, more fuel-efficient ones.
Specifically Gregg’s amendment sought to revise the fiscal 2010 budget by decreasing the Senate’s overall spending cap by $2 billion.
“What I am suggesting we do is that next year, in order to make sure this program is paid for, we reduce the [spending] cap by $2 billion. It is an attempt to bring some integrity to the process, some honesty to the process, and actually pay for the program we allege we are paying for rather than use this gamesmanship, which is the ultimate bait and switch of saying we are going to pay for it today from funds we are taking out of the account tomorrow, and then we are going to refund that account tomorrow so we end up borrowing the money from our children,” Gregg said.
Carl Levin, D-Mich., said the amendment is a “recipe for chaos in the appropriations process,” and that the underlying bill already has a mechanism by which it will be paid-for without increasing the deficit.
“In addition to all of that, any amendment to this bill will kill the program. So if you want to kill the program as well as create havoc in the appropriations process, then you will vote for the Gregg amendment; otherwise, you will vote no,” Levin said. Patty Murray, D-Wash., then made a motion that Gregg’s amendment itself violates the Senate’s budget rules. Gregg responded by asking that the rules be waived for his amendment, which is what this vote was on.
By a vote of 46-51, the motion was rejected. All but one Republican present voted for the motion. Of Democrats present, seven voted for the motion and 48 voted against it including the most progressive members. The end result is that the motion to waive the rules failed, Gregg’s amendment was killed with a parliamentary maneuver, and the bill went forward without language that would have forced the fiscal 2010 budget resolution’s spending cap to be decreased by $2 billion.