On Agreeing to the Amendment: Amendment 4 to H R 3221

House Vote #711 [primary source: house.gov]
Sep 17, 2009 (111th Congress)

This was a vote to approve or reject an amendment.

H.R. 3221 (111th): Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009
Introduced by Rep. George Miller [D-CA11] on July 15, 2009
Totals     Democrat     Republican
  Aye 167
3 164
  No 251
244 7
Not Voting 21
13 8
Required: Simple Majority

Vote Details


Where is the Speaker’s vote?

According to current House rules, the Speaker of the House is not required to vote in “ordinary legislative proceedings, except when such vote would be decisive.” In practice, this means the Speaker of the House rarely votes and only does so when it is politically useful. When the Speaker declines to vote, he or she is simply omitted from the roll call by the House Clerk.

What’s the difference between “aye” and “yea”?

There is no meaningful difference between “aye” and “yea” (and “nay” and “no”), but the terms are used in different sorts of votes based on Congress’s long tradition of parliamentary procedure.

The House and Senate follow the U.S. Constitution strictly when it says that bills should be decided on by the “yeas and nays” (Article I, Section 7). So they literally say “yea” and “nay” when voting on bills. In the Senate, they always use these words.

The House sometimes operates under a special set of rules called the “Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union” (or “Committee of the Whole” for short), which is a sort of pseudo-committee that is made up of every congressman. During this mode of operation, the House uses the terms “aye” and “no” instead, but the meaning is the same. (See the Rules of the House, Rule XX, and House Practice in the section Voting.)