- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 20, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Senate yesterday effectively killed action this year on a bill opposed by President Bush that would expand federal farm subsidies just before next year's congressional elections.

Democrats said they will try again in January.

For the third time in the past three weeks, Democrats were unable to muster the 60 votes needed to cut off debate and bring the legislation to a final vote.

"We have to move on," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said before the 54-43 roll call.

He said he would bring the bill back to the Senate floor when lawmakers return from their holiday recess in late January.

The farm-bill deadlock was a victory for the Bush administration, which had opposed the measure and had urged Congress to delay the legislation until next year. It was a defeat for Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat up for re-election in 2002.

Mr. Harkin accused Republicans of stalling and said the stalemate puts at risk $73.5 billion set aside for farmers in a congressional budget agreement this year.

"This is really a sad day and not a bright Christmas next week for farmers, ranchers and people who live in rural America. What we've said to them is you don't count," he said.

Republicans denied the stalling charge. Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, said farm legislation would be a top priority of the Senate in January.

"We can complete action in due time," he said.

On Tuesday, the Senate rejected an alternative Republican farm bill by a 55-40 vote.

All the bills would increase spending on farm programs by nearly 80 percent over the next 10 years and reauthorize farm and nutrition programs through 2006.

However, the Senate Democratic bill would raise crop subsidies and create a new payment program tied to changes in commodity prices. The rejected GOP bill wouldn't increase subsidy rates. But it offered farmers more money in fixed annual payments to go with matching deposits for IRA-style savings accounts.

Democrats said the GOP measure, supported by the Bush administration, provided an inadequate safety net for producers and too little money for conservation.

GOP Sens. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Susan Collins of Maine, Gordon Smith of Oregon, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania voted with Democrats to defeat the Republican bill.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide