By Catharine Richert
Washington, DC (June 28, 2007)- The farm bill’s funding squeeze has divided the typically bipartisan House Agriculture Committee and is threatening to drive a wedge through the Democratic Caucus. Party leaders are concerned the money crunch will incite an intraparty squabble on the House floor because the bill is not likely to satisfy many Democrats outside of the Agriculture panel, aides say.
Many of those lawmakers say their top priorities are land conservation, nutrition, energy and rural development – accounts for which there is little extra money in the current version of the bill. The legislation, as approved by all six Agriculture subcommittees, would simply extend current farm subsidies instead of trimming those programs – as many Democrats had hoped – to pay for new priorities.
“It will all depend on whether people on the Agriculture Committee can listen to and accommodate the call for reform,” said Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., on whether there will be a floor fight. “If they don’t, there’s a strong likelihood they will lose control of their bill.”
Although Agriculture Chairman Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., says he is working with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer to find extra cash, most of the money has yet to materialize. Leadership did find some offsets to subsidize renewable energy projects, including $2 billion to fund ethanol research and processing plants.
For more information, visit Congressional Quarterly.