Farm Bill update, calls needed

November 14, 2007 at 4:53 am Leave a comment

This is very late-breaking, but it appears there will be an important procedural vote on Friday to move forward on the farm bill. This is called a “cloture” vote – it requires 60 votes and is designed to define the paramaters of debate and amendments. If this vote fails, we are looking at the very real possibility that the farm bill will not be voted on by the Senate until next year. If it passes, it’s possible they will be voting well into the night on Friday – possibly with some votes held the first several days they return. The politics of what’s behind this are outlined in the article below from CongressDaily (subscription)

Our analysts are working extremely hard to figure out what the best course of action is right now. We are unsure at this point what kind of chance this cloture motion has of passing. I will keep you posted as events unfold, and if and how we may be able to contribute.

In the interim, I sincerely ask fo your prayers for lawmakers to remember the people and faces behind the legislation. I also ask your prayers for our staff in DC who have been working tirelessly over the past several weeks and months. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve called them after 7 or 8 Eastern Time and they’re still in the office plugging away.

Hope to know more in the morning…

Peace and Blessings,
Matt

Reid Files Cloture On Farm Bill To Set Up Key Friday Vote

Saying he was frustrated by Republican unwillingness to agree to an amendment package on the farm bill, Senate Majority Leader Reid Wednesday filed a cloture motion to force a vote Friday morning.
“We need to get this bill done,” Reid said on the floor. “We could still complete the bill before we leave here. If we couldn’t complete the bill before we leave for Thanksgiving, we could get it teed up so we can finish it in a day or two when we come back.”
Minority Leader McConnell, with whom Reid has been jousting about amendments, did not offer such a speedy scenario, but after the cloture motion was filed on Agriculture Chairman Harkin’s bill, he proposed and Reid agreed to limit the universe of farm bill amendments to the 264 that have been filed.
Many of those amendments are nongermane — among them ones dealing with repeal of the estate tax, fixing the alternative minimum tax and limiting litigation from the Exxon Valdez oil spill — and will fall if cloture is invoked.
Senators have until 1 p.m. today to file amendments that would be germane after cloture.
Reid said he considered McConnell’s offer “a small step,” but he would not withdraw the amendments and motions he used to fill the amendment tree and block Republicans from offering amendments.
Reid said Democrats would agree to limit their amendments to five, a decision he acknowledged would probably not please members of his party.
He said he does not expect Republicans to limit themselves to only five amendments and that he has told Agriculture ranking member Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Minority Whip Lott he will “take a look at some nonrelevant amendments.”
He noted past farm bills have usually had only one nonrelevant amendment.
A Senate Democratic aide said Reid’s goal is to encourage Republicans to agree on amendments by Friday or to face angry constituents over Thanksgiving break.
Reid praised the Agriculture Committee-passed bill and said Democrats from all states, not just the farm states, “want to do the farm bill.”
Harkin supported Reid’s move.
“It is frustrating and perplexing that we cannot move such a strong, bipartisan measure that came out of committee without a dissenting vote,” he said in a statement.
Reid had said earlier Wednesday he would file a cloture petition on a payment limitations amendment by Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.
A Reid spokesman said the senator was motivated to file for cloture because Chambliss had objected to Harkin’s requests Wednesday to proceed on some amendments until a “global agreement” had been reached on all amendments.
“For two weeks we have repeatedly requested that all senators, Republican and Democrat, simply be afforded the opportunity to offer amendments in regular order and to have a debate on those amendments,” said Chambliss.
“The farmers and ranchers we represent are depending on us as policy makers to get our work done,” he added. “It is my sincere hope that both sides can come together to move this farm bill forward in the Senate.”
By Jerry Hagstrom

Please call your senators toll-free RIGHT NOW at 1-800-826-3688.

Urge them to support the following amendments to the farm bill as they come to the floor:
Lugar/Lautenberg Amendment
Grassley/Dorgan Amendment
Other amendments that strengthen nutrition programs
(Note: This toll-free number will connect you to the Capitol switchboard; please ask to be connected to your senator’s office in order to leave your message.)

The Senate vote on the farm bill will make a critical difference in whether the 2007 farm bill will include changes that benefit hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world and make programs more fair for U.S. farm and rural families.

Please call as soon as possible. Then, let us know when you’ve made your calls.

Tell your senators that the full Senate now has its chance to pass a fairer farm bill. There are several amendments that would improve the farm bill:

Lugar/Lautenberg Amendment: Would broaden the agricultural safety net by making a free revenue insurance program available to all farmers, saving billions of dollars to be used for nutrition, conservation, the McGovern-Dole international school meals program and more.

Grassley/Dorgan Amendment:Would cap commodity payments at $250,000 per household, helping ensure that payments are targeted to those who need them.
Other amendments that add funding to nutrition programs:Several amendments will be offered to increase funding for the Food Stamp Program and other vital nutrition programs.

The amendments would provide a safety net for all farmers—not just those who grow program crops; make our commodity system fairer for smaller family farmers; and adequately fund other vital needs in nutrition.

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