FARM BILL REFORM AMENDMENT DEFEATED, 58-37
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A plan that would make major reforms to federal farm programs was rejected by senators on Tuesday as a substitute amendment by Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) was defeated by a 58-37 margin, the only farm bill-related voted of the day.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on the Senate floor Wednesday morning that Republicans filed 20 amendments, while he believed Democrats filed eight or nine. The Senate is expected to vote on additional farm bill amendments Wednesday, but progress is slow.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman this week sent two letters to senators to express the organization's positions on various amendments that are likely to be offered.
House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said Congress should "make a serious effort" to prevent non-farmers from receiving federal farm payments. Peterson said he would present his ideas more fully during future House-Senate farm bill negotiations reports.
In other news, Larry Combest, chair of the House Agriculture Committee during consideration of the existing farm bill, said it would be a "political catastrophe" if President Bush carries through on a threat to veto the next farm bill. He also said calling the tax provisions in the Senate farm bill a tax increase does not "hold water," according to The Des Moines Register.
White House aides on Tuesday also said concerns about regulating vehicle emissions and fuel economy may prompt the president to veto the energy bill currently before Congress. A Senate vote could occur later this week; the House approved the energy bill last week.
The White House wants the Transportation Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to continue regulating mileage standards. But Democratic leaders believe the Environmental Protection Agency should become the primary regulator of tailpipe emissions. Another sticking point concerns a provision that would require utilities to produce 15 percent of electricity from renewable sources.