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Bustos introduces another Farm Bill in U.S. House

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Dissatisfied with action taken last week by the U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos joined two of her Iowa colleagues on Wednesday to introduce another five-year Farm Bill in the House.

But the bill introduced Wednesday by Bustos, the 17th District Democrat from Moline, isn't really a new bill. It is the bill that already have been passed by the U.S. Senate in a bipartisan vote.

Bustos and Iowa congressmen Dave Loebsack and Bruce Braley, both Democrats, hope to get a bipartisan vote in the House and get a bill sent to conference committee with the Senate so farmers can get certainty.

"Our entire region of Illinois has been thirsting for the certainty and predictability of a bipartisan, five-year Farm Bill," Bustos said after the bill was introduced. "Our economy needs a Farm Bill, I fought to move this process forward, and partisanship sadly stood in the way of a House version. We owe it to the American people to get this done, so I'm calling on House leadership to swiftly schedule a vote on this bipartisan Senate-passed Farm Bill. It may not be perfect, but Senate Democrats and Republicans were able to come together to get a bill passed, and the House should do the same."

The House defeated its version of the Farm Bill last week after an amendment was added to it that would stiffen work requirements for those applying for food stamps. This after the bill already would have severely cut the food stamp program, including for seniors and families with young children. Until that amendment was approved, there was a good chance Democrats would have voted for the bill to get it to conference committee where differences could be worked out to produce a single bill.

The Senate version of the bill, passed June 10, also includes cuts to the food stamp program, though not nearly as deep.

Bustos, Loebsack and Braley all supported the House version last week in order to get it to conference committee so agreement could be reached on the cuts.

"After voting down the farm bill last week, the House must act quickly to move the farm bill process forward. The Senate voted in a strong bipartisan fashion to move the Farm Bill forward and it is time House leaders bring up this legislation and allow a vote on the bill," Loebsack said. "I know the Farm Bill is critical for Iowa's farmers, rural communities and economy. While the Senate legislation is not perfect, Congress must provide our farmers and rural communities some certainty. Partisan bickering will only further delay enactment of a long-term Farm Bill."

Said Braley, "It's time for the House to do its job and pass a long-term extension of the Farm Bill. It's a necessity for rural America. Farmers and agricultural producers need the Farm Bill so they can have the assurance they need to continue to invest in the future, create jobs, and grow the economy. The Senate has passed a bipartisan Farm Bill and it's time the House does the same."

Colin Milligan, communications director for Bustos, said the Congresswoman believes a new Farm Bill is needed because the current one, which was extended already, expires in September. "We'd prefer a new bill to another extension to give farmers some certainty," he said.

Even though the bill introduced in the House Wednesday by Bustos, Loebsack and Braley is the exact same text as the Senate bill, the belief is the House would likely attach amendments that would force it into conference committee.

"Congresswoman Bustos doesn't agree with everything in the Senate bill, of course, but sees it as a way to move it forward, to get a five-year bill to a bipartisan vote and into conference committee," he said.

No work on the bill has been scheduled, Milligan said.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).