Cloture vote on H.R. 6, Energy Independence and Security Act and Debate on Farm Bill

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 07 Dec 2007 14:00:00 GMT

A roll call vote is expected at about 9:20 am on the motion to invoke cloture on the energy bill as passed by the House of Representatives on December 6.

By a vote of of 53-42 the cloture motion failed.

The following Democrats voted against cloture:
  • Bayh (D-IN)
  • Byrd (D-WV)
  • Landrieu (D-LA)
The following Republicans voted for cloture:
  • Coleman (R-MN)
  • Collins (R-ME)
  • Smith (R-OR)
  • Snowe (R-ME)
  • Thune (R-SD)
The following Republicans voted against cloture but previously had voted for the earlier Senate version of H.R. 6, which included the CAFE standard, but not RES or the tax title:
  • Corker (R-TN)
  • Craig (R-ID)
  • Crapo (R-ID)
  • Domenici (R-NM)
  • Ensign (R-NV)
  • Lugar (R-IN)
  • Sessions (R-AL)
  • Specter (R-PA)
  • Stevens (R-AK)
  • Sununu (R-NH)
The following Republicans voted against cloture but previously had voted for energy tax provisions similar to those in the House version:
  • Crapo (R-ID)
  • Lugar (R-IN)
  • Grassley (R-IA)
  • Roberts (R-KS)

Following the vote, the chamber resumed consideration of the farm bill (HR 2419).

Farm Bill Debate Moving Forward in Senate

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 07 Dec 2007 04:38:00 GMT

CQ reports that yesterday evening a bipartisan deal was struck on how to manage the farm bill debate. The deal limits the number of amendments evenly between parties at twenty each. The farm bill had been stalled before the Thanksgiving recess and is under a veto threat.

As Sen. Reid announced this morning on the Senate floor, Sens. Harken and Chambliss will be managing the amendment process. Votes on the amendments and the bill will take place on Tuesday, December 11.

Senate leaders struck an eleventh-hour deal on the 2007 farm bill, agreeing Thursday to debate 40 amendments before lawmakers leave for the holiday recess.

The number of amendments will be split evenly between both parties, with each offering 20, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday night.

“It’s going to be a lot of work, but we’re going to finish the farm bill before we leave, unless something untoward happens,” Reid added.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the agreement represented a “significant step” toward finishing the bill before the end of the year.

Lawmakers have been batting around many amendments since the bill stalled in early November, but only proposals filed by Nov. 14 will be up for consideration, said a Senate Agriculture Committee aide.

Some non-germane proposals may be debated, including an amendment that would change the estate tax and one that would affect how commodity markets handle energy-related derivatives.

The compromise follows almost a month of gridlock over the measure. More than 250 amendments were filed at the beginning of November.

Reid, who complained that many of the Republican amendments had nothing to do with agriculture policy, tried to limit debate Nov. 16 after both parties failed to winnow their lengthy list of amendments. But he fell five votes short of the 60 needed to invoke cloture.

Kid Nutrition Programs in Farm Bill

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 07 Nov 2007 19:00:00 GMT

Senate Democrats will hold a news conference to discuss the nutrition programs in the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007 (HR 2419 – Farm, Nutrition and Bioenergy Act of 2007) and the impact they will have on children’s health. The bill would expand access to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and increase funding, grants and research to growers of fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops. Contact: Jim Manley at 202-224-2939

  • Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)
  • Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
  • Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.)
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)

Senate GOP Blocking Farm Bill Debate; Bush Threatens Veto

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 07 Nov 2007 15:46:00 GMT

Senate debate on the farm bill (HR 2419/S 2302/SA 3500) stalled yesterday when Republicans objected to a unanimous consent resolution that only germane amendments could be proposed. Reid responded by filling the amendment tree with germane amendments, including the Grassley-Dorgan amendment to limit farm payments (SA 3508) and the Lugar-Lautenberg FRESH Act (S 2228) as a substitute bill.

Also yesterday the White House announced its intentions to veto the Senate version of the farm bill (Harkin, S 2302/SA 3500), stating its opposition for budget accounting reasons, though its opposition to the kinds of subsidy reforms in the Harkin bill is also known.

If the farm bill is stalled through the Thanksgiving recess beginning at the end of next week, Reid said subjects the Senate may consider include:
  • a repeal of the estate tax
  • S-CHIP
  • Iraq war amendments
  • labor issues
From CQ:
White House Threatens Veto of Senate Farm Bill By Adrianne Kroepsch, CQ Staff

The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto the Senate version of a five-year farm bill, but it isn’t likely to receive a final measure anytime soon.

The Senate debate on the legislation (HR 2419) ground to a halt almost immediately as Republicans refused to agree to offer only amendments relevant to the bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., retaliated with a parliamentary maneuver that effectively blocked all amendments except those senators unanimously agree to consider.

The White House objected to the budget accounting of the farm package.

The legislation would shift the timing of farm payments in a fashion “that does not allow for the proper accounting of $9.8 billion in actual government outlays,” according to the statement of administration policy.

The formal veto followed a warning Monday by acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner, who said the legislation hides new spending by shifting billions of dollars in payments outside the 10-year horizon used in the budget accounting.

The bill “does not meet the spirit” of congressional budget rules requiring new expenditures to be offset by revenue increases or spending cuts, Conner said.

President Bush is eager to sign a farm bill this year, but he would veto the Senate version as it stands, the White House said.

Despite a strong agricultural economy, the farm bill would not make “significant farm program reform” as the administration requested in January, the statement said. Instead, the measure would increase price supports and continue to send farm subsidies to the wealthy, it said.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called the veto threat premature.

“The president has threatened a veto before the bill has been debated, before amendments have been offered, and before it’s been passed,” Reid said Tuesday morning. “Here we go again.”

Reid also railed against the White House and the Agriculture Department for not overhauling the offending farm subsidy policies themselves.

“The Bush administration has had every opportunity to fix the issue of non-farmers receiving farm payments. . . . This can all be changed by fixing [USDA] regulations. You don’t have to change the law,” Reid said.

Former Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns spent the year leading up to the farm bill giving presentations on the topic. “He should’ve been giving a Power Point presentation about why the Bush administration hasn’t fixed it,” Reid said.

The administration urged the Senate to remove provisions of the bill it called trade-distorting, and to eliminate timing shifts that mask billions in costs and remove tax increases.

Amendment Battle

The tax-related provisions of the bill — folded into the measure after Senate Finance Committee approval — could be one of the trickiest portions of the bill under debate this week.

Reid has said repeatedly that he will not allow “mischievous” tax amendments — on topics ranging from capital gains rates to the estate tax — to be considered on the Senate floor during farm bill debate. “I have indicated that we will take only relevant amendments,” he repeated Tuesday.

But when Reid sought unanimous consent to allow only relevant amendments to be offered, Republicans objected.

Senate Republicans appeared ready to stall action on the measure. That could jeopardize Reid’s goal of passing the farm bill before the Thanksgiving recess begins at the end of next week.

“If people don’t want to do work on the farm bill, that’s their right as a senator. I am certainly not going to file cloture this week,” Reid said. “But I don’t think that’s a very productive way of doing things, when I’ve indicated I will take relevant amendments.”

Senators on both sides of the aisle were readying a repeal of the estate tax, another stab at overhauling children’s health insurance, amendments dealing with the war in Iraq and labor-related proposals, among others, Reid said.

He responded with a procedural move, “filling the amendment tree” with proposals directly related to the farm bill, including one by Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and Byron L. Dorgan, D-N.D., to limit farm payments and a substitute bill by Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., and Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., among others.

That blocked all other amendments unless unanimous consent was granted.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., protested the maneuver.

“The Senate is now gridlocked on the farm bill because of majority’s decision to fill up the amendment tree,” McConnell said. “What will have to happen at this point — which happens every day on every bill here in the Senate — is that we’re going to have to sit down outside of the chamber and figure out a way to go forward. We’re not going to be able to go forward under the existing circumstances.”

CQ: Baucus Proposes Ethanol Credit Cut

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 01 Oct 2007 13:50:00 GMT reports:
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus is contemplating changes to the ethanol tax credit, Social Security taxes and property taxes to help pay for a bill that would give farmers new tax breaks. . . .

Reducing the 51-cents-per-gallon ethanol tax credit by 5 cents would save about $854 million over 10 years. The provision would take effect only after annual ethanol production reached 7.5 billion gallons. Last year, about 6 billion gallons were made.

While the provision could irritate corn state lawmakers who say current law is helping boost rural economies, biofuel advocates say they won’t fight the provision.

“This is . . . the natural evolution of the industry,” said Matt Hartwig, spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association.

At the same time, Jon Doggett of the National Corn Growers Association says he has “some real misgivings” about the proposal. Any change in the tax credit should be hashed out in the energy bill, he said.

Senate Farm Bill Outlook

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 30 Jul 2007 22:23:00 GMT

From Broader Policy Overhaul May Be in Store as Senate Takes Up Farm Bill.

  • Senate will take up bill after August recess; making the September 30 deadline unlikely
  • Sen. Harkin, Ag Committee chair, plans much higher land-conservation program funding than in House bill (HR 2419)
  • Harkin and Grassley (R-Iowa) plan to cap annual payments to $250,000 from current cap of $360,000; HR 2419 has no cap
  • Sen. Lugar (R-Ind.) supports FARM21, Ron Kind’s proposal (H.AMDT 700)
  • Sens. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Brown (D-Ohio) introduced the Farm Safety Net Improvement Act last week, which ties “counter-cyclical” payments (aka crop subsidy payments) to revenue (price times yield) instead of the target price (see the American Farmland Trust page)
  • Nutrition advocates are looking for better than the $4 billion increase in the House bill
  • Tax provisions to pay for the Senate bill will generate Republican resistance

Full text below the fold.

Broader Policy Overhaul May Be in Store as Senate Takes Up Farm Bill By Catharine Richert, CQ Staff

The Senate is prepared to write a dramatically different farm bill than the version the House passed last week.

The Senate debate will not happen until September or later. For now, Senate Agriculture Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has promised to increase funding for land-conservation programs far above House numbers.

The $286 billion, five-year House measure (HR 2419), which passed, 231-191, on July 27, would impose new limits on farm subsidies, increase support for fruit and vegetable growers, boost land conservation and increase funding for nutrition programs. Farmers making more than $1 million a year would not be eligible for federal assistance.

Given the tight budget for the farm bill, subsidies are likely to be Harkin’s first target. He has said he will support a proposal by Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, that would cap the amount of money a farmer can get at $250,000 a year. Currently, the cap is $360,000 a year. The House bill does not include an overall payment cap.

Harkin has other options. Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., supports FARM21, a version of a proposal by Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., that the House rejected. It would have phased out some subsidies and ­reinvested billions into conservation, nutrition and rural development programs.

Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., issued a plan to link countercyclical payments, which kick in when the price of a crop drops below a government-set target, to a crop’s revenue instead. They say their plan would be cheaper and more compliant with international trade law.

The flurry of proposals signals that the Senate is more open to a broad overhaul of the 2002 farm law (PL 107-171), says Scott Faber, farm policy director for Environmental Defense, an organization that will seek deeper cuts to subsidies and more money for conservation programs.

Also hoping for a bigger pot of money are nutrition advocates, who asked the House for an extra $20 billion over five years for a broad range of food programs.

Ellen Vollinger, who works for the Food Research and Action Center, said that money may be difficult to find in the Senate because of the tight budget. Her group may be looking for a much smaller amount, she said. The House bill proposes a $4 billion increase to various nutrition programs over five years.

Some of the extra cash for nutrition programs in the House bill came from cuts to crop insurance. Agriculture Chairman Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., made those changes at the last minute to mollify food stamp advocates such as Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who vowed to vote against the bill unless it did more to boost nutrition.

The rest of it came from a provision that would tax foreign companies doing business here — which almost sunk the House bill. Most Republicans voted against the measure over the tax provision.

If a similar provision appears in the Senate farm bill — or becomes an issue in the expected conference on the legislation — big business is sure to launch an attack claiming that the package would discourage foreign companies from setting up shop in the United States.

House passes Farm Bill 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 27 Jul 2007 20:56:00 GMT

By 231-191, the House passed the farm bill (HR 2419) today. Highlights:
  • The bill funds the energy title, which funds biofuels research and development, energy efficiency programs and renewable-energy projects, by reversing $6.1 billion over ten years of the offshore drilling royalty payments mistakenly granted to oil and gas companies
  • The bill found additional funding for food stamps by by ending a practice known as “earnings stripping,” which lets foreign-owned companies shift income to a country with lower tax rates, delivering $7.8 billion over 10 years
  • The Senate is expected to start debating its version of the legislation after the August recess. Current programs expire Sept. 30 and it is unlikely Congress will be able to complete action on a new five-year bill by then. Instead, a short-term extension of the law is likely to be necessary.
  • The $5 million per year Community Food Projects program to fight food insecurity by funding projects that promote the self-sufficiency of low-income communities was zeroed out.
Some of the 31 amendments voted on:
  • The Ron Kind (D-Wis.) amendment (H.AMDT. 700, text) to cut farm subsidies and invest the money in conservation, nutrition, rural development and deficit reduction failed 117-309
  • The Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) amendment (text) to make it easier for Cuba to buy U.S. crops failed 182-245
  • The John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) amendment to prevent farmers from locking in artificially high loan-deficiency payments failed 153-271
  • The Adam H. Putnam (R-Fla.) amendment (text) to increase the subsidy ceiling above $1 million if 75% of the recipient’s income was farm-related failed 175-252
  • The Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) amendment (text) to make cuts to the crop insurance programs to support grasslands conservation failed 175-250
  • The Lee Terry (R-Neb.) amendment (text)to create $10 million worth of sweet sorghum ethnanol demonstration project passed by voice vote
  • The Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) amendment (text)to return plant pest inspections to the Department of Agriculture from Homeland Security Department passed by voice vote

Farm Bill Markup

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 19 Jul 2007 15:53:00 GMT

Coverage of the farm bill (HR 2419) markup sessions (day one, two, and three) from around the Web: AP: Some Farmers Would Lose Subsidies Under Farm Bill:
The House Agriculture Committee voted Wednesday to ban federal subsidies to farmers with incomes averaging more than $1 million a year and stop farmers from collecting payments for multiple farm businesses.

Only farmers whose incomes exceed $2.5 million a year are now disqualified from such aid.

CQ: Pelosi Eyes Pre-Recess Vote on Farm Bill
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been taking a hard look at moving the farm bill through the House in a make-or-break week just before August recess. But given the competing priorities, there are no guarantees.
CQ: Labeling Fight Put Off As Farm Bill Markup Proceeds
Food labeling advocates and meat packers have been given a week to strike a deal on mandatory country-of-origin labeling, temporarily averting what was expected to be a heated debate over the hot-button issue.

More coverage at the individual hearing pages (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday).

To continue consideration of H.R. 2419, the 2007 Farm Bill

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 19 Jul 2007 14:00:00 GMT

From, coverage of Thursday’s markup:

Passed by voice vote:
  • An amendment by Rep. Zack Space, D-Ohio, that would give broadband companies that bring services to rural areas 35 years to repay Agriculture Department loans. Currently, loans are typically paid off in 10 to 15 years.
  • An amendment by Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., that would create a preference within USDA loan programs for projects that process and distribute locally.
  • An amendment by Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, D-S.D., that would set aside federal dollars to help public television stations in rural areas upgrade equipment.
  • An amendment by Adrian Smith, R-Neb., that would include ethanol by-product utilization as an objective of USDA alternative energy research.
  • An amendment by Conaway that would add goat meat to the list of products that should be included under the country-of-origin labeling law.
  • an amendment by Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., that would have allowed states to hire outside contractors to administer food stamp programs.

To continue consideration of H.R. 2419, the 2007 Farm Bill

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 18 Jul 2007 14:00:00 GMT

From, summaries of the amendment votes at the markup session:

On the conservation front:

Farmers who earn too much to qualify for payments under the bil would be barred from receiving payments under farmland conservation programs, which worries environmentalists.

“Prohibiting and limiting large commercial farmers, in particular, from participating in conservation programs makes no sense,” said Scott Faber, who directs Environmental Defense’s farm policy campaign. “Large commercial farmers are more likely to participate in conservation programs and manage a disproportionately large share of the landscape.”

Amendments passed:
  • The “language barring farmers who make more than $1 million in annual adjusted gross income from collecting government subsidies, and also eliminating payments to those who earn $500,000 to $1 million a year if less than 67 percent of that income comes from farming” was amended by voice vote to “lift limits on marketing loans, which provide short-term loans so farmers can pay their bills until they sell their harvested crops. Aides said this concession by Peterson won support from Southern lawmakers, who worried that the bill would otherwise hurt cotton and rice growers.”
  • An amendment by Bob Etheridge, D-N.C., that would make federal dollars available to expand foreign markets for tobacco. The panel adopted the amendment 14-10, with Peterson’s support. North Carolina Republican Robin Hayes warned that without the support for U.S. growers, Chinese growers would dominate the tobacco industry. North Dakota Democrat Earl Pomeroy predicted the amendment would fail on the House floor. He said it “would endure withering criticism for using U.S. dollars to encourage other areas of the world to smoke.”
Passed by voice vote:
  • An amendment by Tim Walz, D-Minn., that would make it easier for farmers growing organic crops to enroll in the Conservation Security Program.
  • An amendment by Nick Lampson, D-Texas, that would create a one-time incentive program to encourage the market growth of oilseeds, which are lower in trans-fats.
  • An amendment by Sam Graves, R-Mo., that would bar farmers or companies defrauding the Agriculture Department from participating in the agency’s programs.
  • An amendment by K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, that would prevent the Agriculture Department from writing subsidy checks smaller than $25. It costs the department too much to write checks for smaller amounts, Conaway said.
  • An amendment by Jim Costa, D-Calif., that would require 50 percent of funding in the Regional Water Enhancement Program to be spent on new water preservation projects. Waterways in California and elsewhere could benefit from those federal dollars, Costa said.

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