Stabenow: Senate Will Not Act on House-Passed Ag Disaster Bill

August 3, 2012 01:00 AM
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Senate continues push for farm bill conference | House members seeking support for discharge petition

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) flatly said the Senate will not even consider the House-passed disaster measure because it is too limited and instead she will continue to push both sides to conference a new farm bill that includes broader ag assistance. Absent that, she said Senate Democrats will offer a stand-alone “bipartisan comprehensive disaster assistance program” in September.

“I’m not passing a bill that only covers some help for some producers,” Stabenow said.

But Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), ranking member on the Senate Ag panel, is pushing for a disaster aid package.

Meanwhile, President Obama was urged to create an “Interagency Drought Task Force” to address the needs of the ag sector. The letter was led by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and signed by 14 Democrats and one Republican.

The House on Thursday passed a stand-alone drought relief measure by a vote of 223-197. The $383 million package (HR 6233) would largely authorize assistance to ranchers impacted by drought that occurred in Fiscal 2012, which ends Sept. 30, 2012.

The House budget offsets would reduce spending on two conservation programs — with a net deficit reduction of $256 million over 10 years.

Discharge petition in the House. Regarding a new farm bill in the House, a bipartisan group of rural lawmakers began an effort to try to force the House to take up the five-year farm bill that passed out of the House Agriculture Committee. The group is seeking support for a discharge petition that would put the farm bill on the calendar, whether or not House GOP leaders approve. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that there are not 218 votes in the House for a farm bill given conservative opposition to spending and liberal problems with food stamp cuts. Reps. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Rick Berg (R-N.D.), Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) are leading the discharge effort. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) is gathering signatures from the GOP side.

Braley filed the discharge petition on July 24, and his office said it will ripen on Sept. 13 if pro-forma days are counted. Once 218 members sign it, the bill will come to the floor.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said that the discharge petition could be one way to move the farm bill forward. He said that during August pro forma sessions he expects to formally report out the farm bill to the floor.

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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