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Morning Action: Senate Passes Extremely Flawed Amnesty Bill

AMNESTY.  The Senate passed the Gang of Eight amnesty bill by a vote of 68 to 23 Thursday, but the bill fails to secure the border, and it would only reduce illegal immigration by 25 percent “if the Administration delivers fully, on time, on every security measure promised in the bill.”  Heritage explains:

The Senate proved today—in passing a massive, complicated, budget-busting bill that fails to fix our flawed immigration system and broken borders—that it has not yet exhausted all its alternatives.

Instead, the Senate delivered a monstrosity of a measure that takes the worst from the failed “amnesty-first” formula tried in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act and pairs it with the politics of Obamacare—layering in backroom deals and Rube Goldberg-style mechanisms for funding and enforcing the law.

This bill heads to the House now. Whether or not all the Senators read the 1,000-plus pages, they are responsible for it. 

FARM BILL.  House Republicans are actively working to split the farm bill and food stamps, an idea put forth last August by Mike Needham and Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN):

Moving further to the right, the House Republican leadership is actively pursuing a strategy of splitting its failed farm bill into two parts so that the nutrition title and food stamps funding can each be considered on its own.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is driving the new approach, which dovetails with the agenda of outside conservative groups. But Speaker John Boehner’s office signaled Thursday that he also is open to the two-bill strategy and a final decision will be made after the July 4 recess.

The food stamps fight has dominated farm bill politics to date. But last week’s floor debate also reflected a bipartisan appetite for more reforms in crop insurance and international food aid — a path that could attract votes from both sides of the aisle.

It is possible that the food stamps issues has become so toxic that Democrats will be reluctant to come on board. But they, like agriculture, have a stake in keeping alive the partnership that has worked so long.

Moreover, Rep. Cantor wants a farm bill that can pass solely with Republican votes (sub. req’d).  Lawmakers have not come to a conclusion on what that would look like.

Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham stated:

“We are encouraged to hear reports that House Republican leaders are actively considering the separation of the so-called farm bill.  This is an important first step to restoring fiscal sanity and transparency to this debate, but it is only a step.  The reason to end this unholy alliance is to have an open, transparent debate on real reforms.  To be clear, the House should start over and pursue real, free-market reforms; simply holding separate votes on failed policy is nothing more than a different path to the same failed policies.”

Heritage explains:

The Heritage Foundation has argued that it didn’t make sense to combine the bloated food stamp program with farm-related programs in the first place. It is supposed to be the “farm” bill, after all. And with food stamp costs doubling under President Obama, it’s a program that deserves a careful look on its own.

Splitting up the bill is the first step toward reforming both food stamp and farm spending. In a new paper, Heritage experts Daren Bakst and Rachel Sheffield write that “The House now has a second chance to pass a farm bill that benefits taxpayers, farmers, and food stamp recipients.”

It’s incredibly important, they point out, that the House does not add costly new programs to existing farm policy, which already imposes major costs on taxpayers and drives up food prices.

COAL.  Though President Obama has indicated that his administration will impose a slew of new onerous regulations on the coal industry that will cause energy prices to rise, there is some good news, as Heritage notes:

Although the President continued his attack on coal in his recent climate speech, one bright spot for the coal industry is that exports continue to climb, creating jobs and wealth in the process. While some politicians, the Environmental Protection Agency, and environmental activists want to make exporting coal more difficult, the Army Corps of Engineers, the lead agency in permitting coal-export facilities, has refused to block construction of export terminals in Oregon and Washington.

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