Morning Bell: Late-Night Shenanigans in the House
by Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation, July 11, 2013
The House leadership appears to be pulling a fast one on the American public and even fellow House members when it comes to the farm bill.
The House has split up the farm-related programs and food stamps, which is great news. However, they didn’t make a single reform. That’s not the worst part, though.
Every five years or so, Congress passes a new farm bill. The entire purpose of this reauthorization process is for Congress to fix the law if problems exist. The House appears to be doing away with this process for many of the most costly farm program provisions. As a result, bad public policy could be locked in indefinitely.
House leaders have sold this flawed farm-related bill in part by getting rid of existing “permanent law.” So it may surprise many that the bill would just replace this existing permanent law with new permanent law that may even be broader in scope.
Further, the House introduced the text of its farm-only bill last night, and current plans are to vote on the bill as soon as mid-morning today. They are rushing it through the process and not giving members a chance to offer amendments, properly review the bill, or even determine the extent of this potential bait and switch when it comes to permanent law.
This flawed bill simply brings the same troublesome farm programs up for a vote that were considered and soundly rejected by the House a few weeks ago.
Everything that was bloated and egregious in the bill is still bloated and egregious.
- It still goes out of its way to tax Christmas trees, in an effort to override the Obama Administration’s decision to not tax Christmas trees.
- It still drives up food prices—which hurts low-income Americans most.
- It still spends more than President Obama even wanted to spend on the costliest farm program, crop insurance.
- It still hands out taxpayer money to these surprising recipients.
As Heritage expert Daren Bakst wrote:
The current agriculture portions of the House bill need to be reformed. They were flawed when they were combined with the food stamp program, and they will still be flawed if they are separated from food stamps. These sections don’t magically get better by being on their own.
Bakst noted that the House’s insistence on pushing the same old bill to a quick vote—without allowing amendments—only makes matters worse:
When a bill makes Obama look fiscally responsible, it’s a financial fiasco. When the process would trample on open and representative government, it’s an insult to American citizens.
>>> Does the bill even help farmers? Hear this Washington State farmer’s case against the farm bill.
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