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Agriculture Appropriations Bill Passes Subcommittee - Democrats Reject Republican Amendments to Cut Spending


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, June 30, 2010 -

Agriculture Appropriations Bill Passes Subcommittee
Democrats Reject Republican Amendments to Cut Spending
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture today approved legislation to fund federal agencies under its jurisdiction for the 2011 fiscal year. The bill totals $23.1 billion which is equal to President Obama’s request, and $200 million above last year’s House-passed bill.
 
Republicans on the subcommittee expressed serious concerns about the levels of spending in the Agriculture bill, and dismay that this legislation – along with other Appropriations bills – are being considered without limitations or guidance normally outlined in a budget resolution. For the first time since 1974, Democrat in the House have failed to pass a budget resolution to set spending levels for the next fiscal year.
 
“We are considering this Agriculture bill today in a vacuum, without a budget or even an overall spending limit, and we have no knowledge of how the funding in this legislation fits into the overall budget picture. What we do know is that this bill essentially does nothing to reduce the rapid spending that has been the hallmark of the Democrat Congress over the last three years,” Lewis said. “Let’s face it, we are broke, and we must take action now to reduce spending and pass sustainable budgets that won’t send us into a Greek-like financial meltdown. This bill simply doesn’t meet this standard.”
Subcommittee Ranking Member Jack Kingston also expressed concern with the spending in the bill.
 
“All across the country, working families are making difficult decisions to stretch every dollar in this tough economy yet Democrats in Congress refuse to do the same.  Instead, they’re punting the tough choices and financing their out-of-control spending on the backs of our children and grandchildren.  We need to transcend election-year politics and have an adult discussion.  Republicans on this subcommittee stand ready to work with them to provide necessary funding for important programs while making commonsense cuts to government excesses,” Kingston said.
 
Republicans offered several amendments to address the concerns regarding spending in the bill and other important items. These amendments included:
 
1.)    Rep. Latham (R-IWA offered an amendment to cut funding in the bill by 1% ($200 million) and freeze the overall spending at last year’s House-passed level – a genuine spending freeze.
 
The amendment was defeated by subcommittee Democrats on a vote of 5-9.
 
Subcommittee Chairman DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Farr (D-CA), Rep. Boyd (D-FL), Rep. Bishop (D-GA), Rep. Davis (D-TN), Rep. Kaptur (D-OH), Rep. Edwards (D-TX), Rep. Hinchey (D-NY) and Chairmen Obey (D-WI) all voted to oppose the amendment.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Kingston (R-GA), Rep. Latham (R-IA), Rep. Emerson (R-MO), Rep. Alexander (R-LA) and Ranking Member Lewis (R-CA) voted in favor of the amendment.
2.)    Rep. Latham (R-IA) then offered an amendment to cut the total of the bill by 0.5% ($100 million), as a symbol that even small cuts are necessary to get the country on a sustainable fiscal path.
 
The amendment was defeated by subcommittee Democrats on a vote of 5-9.
 
Subcommittee Chairman DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Farr (D-CA), Rep. Boyd (D-FL), Rep. Bishop (D-GA), Rep. Davis (D-TN), Rep. Kaptur (D-OH), Rep. Edwards (D-TX), Rep. Hinchey (D-NY) and Chairmen Obey (D-WI) all voted to oppose the amendment.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Kingston (R-GA), Rep. Latham (R-IA), Rep. Emerson (R-MO), Rep. Alexander (R-LA) and Ranking Member Lewis (R-CA) voted in favor of the amendment.
3.)    Rep. Latham (R-IA) offered an amendment to prohibit USDA from requiring small meat processing plants (those with 50 or fewer employees) to implement new microbial testing procedures. Such new procedures are extremely costly and could cause many of these small businesses – which are critically important to their rural communities – to close.
 
The amendment was withdrawn.
 
4.)    Rep. Emerson (R-MO) offered an amendment to eliminate funds for a new program created by the legislation – the “Regional Innovation Initiative.” The legislation would take 5% of the funds provided for 20 USDA programs and award the funds to 5 regions, to “areas engaged in strategic regional planning as defined by the Secretary.” The Administration has not given full justification for this proposal, and it would give the Secretary of Agriculture sweeping funding authority without Congressional involvement.
 
The amendment was defeated by subcommittee Democrats on a vote of 5-8.
 
Subcommittee Chairman DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Farr (D-CA), Rep. Boyd (D-FL), Rep. Bishop (D- GA), Rep. Davis (D-TN), Rep. Edwards (D-TX), Rep. Hinchey (D-NY) and Chairmen Obey (D-WI) all voted to oppose the amendment.
 
Subcommittee Ranking Member Kingston (R-GA), Rep. Latham (R-IA), Rep. Emerson (R-MO), Rep. Alexander (R-LA) and Ranking Member Lewis (R-CA) voted in favor of the amendment.
5.)    Rep. Emerson (R-MO) offered an amendment to prohibit the USDA from assisting the EPA in its efforts to require milk producers to prepare an oil spill prevention plan. Under current guidelines, the EPA defines milk as an oil product. These new regulations would place cost-prohibitive and potentially devastating regulations on many milk producers.
 
The amendment was withdrawn.
 
6.)    Rep. Alexander (R-LA) offered an amendment to eliminate funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). This poorly conceived program has proven to be difficult to administer, and ultimately does not advance conservation. It subsidizes activities that participants would likely have engaged in without the program. In addition, USDA Inspector General has found this program to be wrought with improper payments, with over 50% of the subsidies going to ineligible individuals or entities.
 
The amendment was withdrawn.
 
7.)    Subcommittee Ranking Member Kingston (R-GA) offered an amendment to reduce the funding provided to the Secretary of Agriculture for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative to $5 million (from $35 million) and require a report outlining how the agency will implement the program.  This program provides tax-payer dollars to subsidize privately owned grocery stores in areas where the federal government determines there are not enough stores operating. 
The amendment was defeated by subcommittee Democrats on a vote of 5-9.
 
Subcommittee Chairman DeLauro (D-CT), Rep. Farr (D-CA), Rep. Boyd (D-FL), Rep. Bishop (D- GA), Rep. Davis (D-TN), Rep. Kaptur (D-OH), Rep. Edwards (D-TX), Rep. Hinchey (D-NY) and Chairmen Obey (D-WI) all voted to oppose the amendment.
Subcommittee Ranking Member Kingston (R-GA), Rep. Latham (R-IA), Rep. Emerson (R-MO), Rep. Alexander (R-LA) and Ranking Member Lewis (R-CA) voted in favor of the amendment.
 
8.)    Subcommittee Ranking Member Kingston (R-GA) offered an amendment to provide no fiscal year 2011 funding  for the Rural Broadband program, allowing the program to continue, but using the approximately $2.4 billion in funds that have yet to be spent in the program.
 
The amendment was withdrawn.
 
9.)    Subcommittee Ranking Member Jack Kingston offered an amendment related to FDA labeling of a certain emergency-contraception pharmaceutical drug.
 
The amendment was withdrawn.

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