Morning Action: Farm Bill Defeated in House, Immigration Battle Wages on in Senate

FARM BILL DEFEAT. Democrats and Republicans are finger pointing, each claiming the other was responsible for the food stamp and farm bill defeat (sub. req’d):

Republicans and Democrats are blaming each other over the stunning rejection Thursday of the House farm bill… Before the 195-234 vote, House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas pleaded with colleagues to support the bill, warning that it could be the last chance to pass the legislation for at least this year. An extension of the 2008 farm bill expires Sept. 30, although as a practical matter lawmakers likely could wait until the end of the year or longer to pass an extension.

He also urged members to ignore rumors or the last emails they’d received. “Vote in a responsible fashion. That’s all I can ask,” said Lucas, R-Okla.

We beg to differ, though, as the Washington Post notes:

“GOP leaders are trying to pin the farm bill loss on Pelosi; it’s not. Conservatives killed it because it spent nearly $1 trillion,” said Daniel Holler, a spokesman for the Heritage Action for America network, which spent $100,000 on ads opposing the bill.

We, as conservatives, will gladly take the “blame.”  And fortunately, despite Rep. Lucas’s urging, a sufficient number of lawmakers decided not to ignore their constituents’ emails.

This was “an important victory for taxpayers and a stinking rebuke for the Washington establishment,” as Heritage notes:

Sixty-two Republicans bucked their own party to vote against the bloated bill.Coupled with a large bloc of Democrats who wanted more spending on food stamps, the bipartisan opposition was enough to sink the measure. It’s unclear if or when House leaders will bring the bill back to the floor for a vote.

AMNESTY.  The Senate continues its debate on the Gang of Eight amnesty bill and various amendments that some say would improve the bill (sub. req’d):

The chamber resumes consideration of an overhaul of immigration laws (S 744). The focus is on an amendment by John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., that would condition permanent legal status on a range of heightened border security measures. Meets at 10:30 a.m. with votes possible.

We have stated, however, that no immigration bill is acceptable that puts legalization measures in place before the border is secure.  Our CEO Mike Needham said:

Unless the Gang of Eight is willing to reconsider their legalization-first approach, their legislation is beyond repair.  Amnesty cannot be improved, and amendments that change the bill’s post-legalization language are simply talking points disguised as policy.  Heritage Action will oppose amendments that, if adopted, will serve as political cover for those Senators seeking to justify their support for amnesty.

BUDGET.  The Senate Appropriations Committee joined by five Republicans made a bipartisan plea Thursday to begin a budget conference (sub. req’d):

In a non-binding sense of the Senate resolution, the committee voted 20-9 to urge the Senate to immediately request a conference with the House, appoint conferees and convene a conference committee to complete work on the budget resolution. Five GOP Senate appropriators joined all of the panel’s Democrats to back the measure.

Heritage has explained:

Congress needs to drive down federal spending toward a balanced budget, including through entitlement reforms, while maintaining a strong national defense and without raising taxes.  Neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate achieved that objective when they adopted their respective versions of the government budget for fiscal year 2014 (FY ’14).

Under the current circumstances, going to a House–Senate conference on a concurrent budget resolution is the first step on the path that leads directly to more spending, higher taxes, and larger debt. Congress should stay off that dangerous path and instead take up the appropriations bills—the real money bills in Congress—and start slashing the cost of government.

STUDENT LOANS. Senators have reached a potential compromise on student loans (sub. req’d):

A tentative Senate compromise to avert the doubling of federal student loan interest rates on July 1 will likely peg the rates to the 10-year Treasury bill and include a cap to protect borrowers, according to several Senate Democrats involved in the ongoing negotiations.

Heritage’s Lindsey Burke has explained:

As long as the federal government is in the student loan business, fair-value accounting practices should be employed.

However, moving forward there should be no subsidy for the loan program.  Anything else is harmful to taxpayers who “bear the burden of risky loans if a student later defaults.”

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