WASHINGTON – Late Monday a cloture vote on the Agricultural Act of 2014 passed a cloture vote on the Senate floor. The vote limits debate on the bill to just 30 hours, which ensures a final vote on the bill sometime Tuesday.
Speaking before the cloture vote, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont said “I’m dissapointed the final bill contains any cuts to the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program.” However on Monday Leahy voiced his support of the farm bill conference report on the Senate floor and, in spite of its cuts, lauded the report’s approach to nutrition assistance. Leahy also praised the new farm bill’s conservation title, which re-couples crop insurance and conservation compliance on highly-erodible ground.
“You lose these natural resources; this farmland?” said Leahy. “They don’t make it anymore. You’re not going to get it back. Federally supported crop insurance will ease farmers’ exposure when natural disasters strike. But meanwhile, enlisting farmers to continue the simple conservation practices they they’re already following to ensure the protection of our wetlands, and our sensitive lands.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley of Iowa has stated that he will vote against the bill. He says the conference committee made a $387 million mistake in changing his payment limit provision, according to a rescore of the bill from the Congressional Budget Office.
“In fact, rule 28 of the Senate Rules says this:” Grassley read. “‘Conferees shall not insert in their report matters not committeed to them by either House. Nor shall they strike from the bill matter agreed to by both Houses.'”
While Grassley concedes the conference committee did not entirely do away with his provision, he says it was changed enough so as to be ineffective, and argues generous subsidies have gotten presidential vetoes for past farm bills.
“President Bush vetoed a farm bill in 2008,” said Grassley, “because he said it ‘continues subsidies for the wealthy.'”