- - Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Chamber of Commerce has spent a whopping $1.6 million on television ads opposing Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat, in his re-election bid and $1 million attacking Democrat Tim Kaine in the race for a Senate seat from Virginia against Republican George Allen, disclosures showed Thursday.

The conservative-leaning business lobby also spent nearly $1 million opposing Rep. Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Democrat, in her bid for the Senate and more than half a million opposing Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, in her bid for re-election.

The Virginia ad says the “Kaine train” would “derail” Virginia’s economy with “big-government policies,” and notes his support for President Obama’s health care reform law.

The expenditure is unusual because it comes from a nonprofit group rather than a political committee, and it is by far the largest of its kind thus far in this election cycle.


Drought-relief legislation could come next week

A House Republican leader said Thursday that the House may take up legislation next week to help farmers and ranchers hit by the drought that has parched much of the nation.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, said that in the final week before Congress leaves for a five-week summer recess the House may consider legislation related to “programs and disaster assistance under the expiring farm bill.”

Earlier, House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, told reporters, “I do believe that the House will address the livestock disaster program.”

The two leaders offered few details of the legislation, but it is expected to focus on the livestock industry. Many corn and soybean farmers are partially shielded from drought damage by crop insurance, but fewer livestock producers have insurance and the main federal disaster-relief program for them expired last year.

The drought is driving up the costs of feed, forcing some livestock farmers to reduce their stocks earlier than planned.

Neither lawmaker discussed how to pay for a revived livestock disaster-relief program.

Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, has estimated that it could cost $2.5 billion to institute a disaster-relief program and enact a short-term extension of the current five-year farm bill, which expires at the end of September.

The Senate last month passed a $500 billion, five-year farm bill and the House Agriculture Committee this month approved a similar bill. Neither Mr. Boehner nor Mr. Cantor mentioned the possibility of the full House considering that legislation before the August break.


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