This was a vote on a motion to suspend the rules and pass legislation that would have required federal agencies to determine which employees are eligible to telecommute (work from home). The bill would also have required those agencies to designate an official to supervise telecommuting programs for federal employees.
Motions to suspend the rules limit time allowed for debate, and prohibit members from offering amendments. A two-thirds majority vote is required to approve the motion and pass a bill, rather than the usual majority.
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) urged support for the bill: “This legislation seeks to improve and expand access to telework (telecommuting) among Federal employees governmentwide…despite the evolving nature of the way the federal Government conducts its affairs, telework continues to be underutilized by federal agencies. H.R. 1722 provides for improvements to increase the number of federal employees that participate in telework programs.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) also praised the bill: “Telework has been shown to save money on infrastructure, transportation, and other costs.…In addition, telework has proven to be an effective way to attract and retain highly qualified, skilled, and motivated employees. As the baby boomer generation begins to retire, these types of tools will be essential to ensuring that the Federal Government can attract the next generation of employees.
No members spoke in opposition to the bill. The Baltimore Sun, however, quoted Michael Steel -- a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) -- as saying: "Republican members opposed the bill because it would add $30 million to the deficit." Steel was referring to a cost estimate by the Congressional Budget office projecting that implementing the bill’s new telecommuting policies would cost the federal government $30 million over six years.
While a majority of members (268) voted in favor of the bill, a two-thirds majority vote is required for passage under suspension of the rules. Since H.R. 1722 did not receive a two-thirds majority vote, the measure failed. The vote on this motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill was 268-147. All 244 Democrats present and 24 Republicans voted “yea.” 147 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected legislation that would have required federal agencies to determine which employees are eligible to telecommute (work from home), and designate an official to supervise telecommuting programs. Democratic leaders, however, could bring up the bill again under a procedure requiring only a simple majority for passage.