April 11, 2008
April 11, 2008 - With just nine days to go before the current Farm Bill expires, House leaders finalized a deal yesterday to forge ahead with a scaled back spending framework that is $5.5 billion over baseline and includes more substantial cuts in crop insurance, but does not include a permanent disaster provision or a controversial tax package. However, it is not clear whether this newest proposal will win support from Senate colleagues or even a majority of the House conferees once more details become available.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (Va.), who serves as the ranking republican on the House Agriculture Committee said the new proposal is bi-partisan and supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio).
"It's a good approach," Goodlatte said. "The problem that we had, in addition to how to pay for the bill, is what is outside of our (the Agriculture Committees') jurisdiction. It has complicated, for many months, the effort to get something done."
He said the package they've outlined does not look like the one he and Chairman Collin Peterson (Minn.) put forward in February that was about $6 billion over the baseline but offered few specifics, other than to emphasize that the Farm Bill would not be paid for with new taxes. Shortly after Pelosi named House Farm Bill conferees, Goodlatte offered a motion on the House floor to instruct conferees not to agree to any provisions that increase taxes in a final Farm Bill agreement. The non-binding motion passed by a 400-11 margin.
Sources say that one of the main offsets to pay for additional Farm Bill spending comes from a proposal that's opposed by major business and banking groups: requiring credit card issuers to report all business transactions to the Internal Revenue Service. The proposal aims to make sure that all business income is reported. President Bush supported this offset in his federal budget proposal, but in the past, administration sources say it was rejected for use in Farm Bill funding scenarios.
Members from the House Agriculture Committee that will be serving on the Farm Bill conference committee with Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte (Va.) include Reps. Joe Baca (Calif.); Leonard Boswell (Iowa); Dennis Cardoza (Calif.); Bob Etheridge (N.C.); Robin Hayes (N.C.); Tim Holden (Pa.); Frank Lucas (Okla.); Mike McIntyre (N.C.); Jerry Moran (Kan.); Marilyn Musgrave (Colo.); Randy Neugebauer (Texas); and David Scott (Ga.).
Senators serving on the conference committee include Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.); Saxby Chambliss of (Ga.); Thad Cochran (Miss.); Kent Conrad (N.D.); Chuck Grassley (Iowa); Tom Harkin (Iowa); Patrick Leahy (Vt.); Blanch Lincoln (Ark.); Richard Lugar (Ind.); Pat Roberts (Kan.); and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.). Reprinted in part from Agri-Pulse