Morning Action: Farm and Food Stamp Bill In the Works

FARM BILL.  Supporters of the House farm and food stamp bill say that the bill is better this time around because there are cuts to food stamp spending:

Just as with last year’s attempt at a farm program reauthorization, some conservatives say the bill’s proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, amounting to $20.5 billion over 10 years, do not go far enough, while many Democrats say they are too much.

Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., said this year’s bill (HR 1947) tries to restrain SNAP’s growth and to focus more on people living at 130 percent of the federal poverty level.

“I like to think we have a well-balanced bill and that we can draw from all sides. The extremes will never support us. I think we have enough of a coalition,” Lucas said Wednesday, shortly after his committee approved the five-year farm bill on a 36-10 vote.

It is not “extreme,” however, to want to separate food stamp policy from farm policy.  On the contrary, it would be a much more sound and reasonable approach to legislating.  Farm and food stamp policy should be considered separately, as Heritage explains, because it would increase lawmakers’ accountability, allow for more transparent government, simplify the legislative process so that lawmakers can truly digest these complex issues, and allow these items to be considered in the proper committees.  Above all, “real reform and improvements to these programs would have a much better chance of being enacted.”

There will also be a number of amendments considered this week for the farm and food stamp bill in the Senate (sub. req’d):

On national policies, they expect to referee amendments to restructure the federal sugar program, increase cuts to the nation’s largest nutrition program and to limit federal crop insurance premiums based on farmers’ income.

More regionally driven issues such as whether to repeal provisions that shift the responsibility of regulating imported fish sold as catfish from the Food and Drug Administration to the Agriculture Department may also surface.

IMMIGRATION REFORM.  Heritage explains that immigration reform should strengthen, not cost, America:

As Ronald Reagan said, “The immigrants who have so enriched America include people from every race, creed, and ethnic background.”

While we welcome those who want to come here, we are a nation of laws and the rule of law requires fair, firm, and consistent enforcement. Immigration is no exception and in fact is critically important, because newcomers need to see the principle in action from their first day in America. Those who enter legally by our slow and bureaucratic system need to be rewarded, not left wondering whether they should have entered or stayed illegally and waited for amnesty.

Unfortunately, Congress is moving ahead with a huge, complex, and comprehensive bill that will include amnesty for those who have broken our immigration laws. And in a time of massive and increasing debt, we know that the bill will end up costing taxpayers trillions of dollars. 

Instead, Congress should proceed step-by-step: border security, then workplace enforcement, and then fixing our broken legal immigration system. These steps will fulfill past promises and benefit America economically while not adding the unnecessary fiscal costs of amnesty.

BENGHAZI.  In an effort to gain more information about the security failures in Benghazi, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa issued a subpoena Friday to veteran diplomat Thomas R. Pickering to appear before the panel (sub. req’d):

In a May 17 letter to Pickering, the California Republican wrote, “It remains my preference for you to appear voluntarily for a transcribed interview, and if that should also become your preference, please notify my staff and I will consider lifting the subpoena.”

The subpoena requires Pickering to appear for a deposition the morning of May 23.

The two men have exchanged a flurry of letters in the past week over the potential testimony of Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the vice chair of the congressionally-mandated Accountability Review Board, which then- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appointed to investigate the events that led to the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other State Department employees in a militant attack.

The board’s report came under withering criticism from House Republicans at an Oversight Committee hearing last week, amid complaints that its final report did not hold senior officials accountable. At the time, Pickering claimed that Issa had not allowed him to come testify, though Issa disputed that and noted that Pickering denied previous requests to meet with panel Republicans.

Pickering sent two letters to Issa this week saying he and Mullen welcomed the opportunity to testify publicly, but refused to participate in a private interview with GOP committee investigators before their public testimony.

Issa said that is unacceptable.


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