Friday, July 27, 2007

House Passes Farm Bill

From the AP:
The Democratic-controlled House passed legislation Friday that combines billions in aid for farmers with money for low-income nutrition programs, defying a veto threat from President Bush over the bill's largesse to crop producers.

The measure, passed on a vote of 231-191, devotes more money to conservation, renewable energy, nutrition and specialty crop programs than in the past but leaves in place -- and in some cases increases -- subsidies to producers of major crops such as corn and soybeans at a time of record-high prices...

Democrats rallied around the bill, however, after debate turned bitterly partisan over a tax measure included to finance some $4 billion in food stamp and other nutrition programs. The plan would impose new taxes on certain multinational companies with U.S. subsidiaries.

Democrats said they were closing a loophole and cracking down on foreign tax-dodgers, while Republicans called it a massive tax hike that would affect manufacturers that provide millions of jobs in their districts. The spat sapped the farm bill of much of its customary bulletproof regional appeal, turning many rural Republicans against the measure.

All but 19 Republicans opposed it, leaving Democrats well short of the margin they would need to override a veto...

The legislation aims to ban subsidies to farmers whose income averages more than $1 million a year, down from the current limit of $2.5 million. It also would stop farmers from collecting payments for multiple farm businesses. Still, it includes about $42 billion in assistance to farmers...

They shored up nutrition funding and added $840 million for an international food aid program to earn the votes of anti-hunger activists including Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Mass. Black lawmakers including Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., were swayed by the inclusion of $100 million for settlement of Clinton administration racial discrimination claims by black farmers.
It's not enough reform as we need, but it is a step in the right direction. Bush shouldn't veto the measure, but he will.

The Senate is due to begin its consideration of the legislation in September.

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