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Morning Action: Some House Lawmakers Resist Food Stamp and Farm Bill Reform

AMNESTY. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) may file cloture on the Gang of Eight amnesty bill today (sub. req’d).  A senior Democratic aide said that Democrats are open to locking in a unanimous consent agreement to guarantee the bill’s final passage by the end of next week:

 “We’re backstopping to ensure that we vote on final passage by the end of the week,” the aide said.

The cloture vote could come as late as Saturday, the aide noted, but he was optimistic the Senate would not be in session over the weekend as Reid has previously threatened to be a possibility.

Between five and 10 votes on amendments to the bill are expected Thursday afternoon, but an agreement was still being discussed over which amendments would get votes. The aide also said more votes on amendments are expected next week.

Apparently, senators are forming some agreement on this amnesty bill that would certainly be harmful to Americans and undermine the rule of law by focusing on legalization first rather than enforcement first.  AP reports:

Other details were not immediately available, although it was expected that modifications to the bill would range far beyond border security provisions. The changes under consideration were the result of negotiations involving the bipartisan Gang of Eight who drafted the bill and Republicans seeking alterations before they would commit to voting for it.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

If agreed to, the changes could clear the way for a strong bipartisan vote within a few days to pass the measure that sits atop President Barack Obama‘s second-term domestic agenda.

FARM BILL.  A vote on final passage of the food stamp and farm bill may not come until Tuesday.  In the meantime, many lawmakers are warding off amendments that would have improved this atrociously bad bill (sub. req’d):

Managers of the House farm bill managed to keep the wide-ranging measure more or less intact on the first day of votes, fighting off challenges to noteworthy provisions, including cuts to a major U.S. nutrition assistance program. Still, the vote on final passage might not come until Tuesday.

Though Agriculture Committee leaders defeated an effort to eliminate $20.5 billion in reductions to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, there are more amendments on SNAP that may appeal to conservative Republicans but would be opposed by House Democrats and would be unacceptable to the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking Democrat Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota start today with more than 80 amendments pending, including a proposal to strip out a dairy management supply plan that is part of a new dairy program and an amendment to lower loan rates on U.S. sugar.

Drew White explains good amendments to reform food stamps and farm programs have been blocked:

 [T]he House Rules Committee decided upon a final amendments package to the nearly $1 trillion food stamp and farm welfare bill.  Floor debate is underway today and will continue on Thursday and possibly into next week. Despite Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) promise for a “fair process that will allow for a vigorous and open debate,” the Rules Committee once again adopted a structured rule. As a result, some conservatives seeking desperately needed reforms to both food stamps, which comprise 80% of the bill, and farm subsidies will not get a vote on their amendments.

Moreover, President Obama threatened to veto the farm bill because of what he considers “deep cuts” to food stamps – in reality, a 2.5 percent cut to a program for which spending doubled under both President Bush and President Obama.  White adds:

If anything, the President’s veto threat proves how important it is to finally end this unholy food stamp and farm welfare alliance and consider these programs individually. Furthermore, it should be a clear sign to Republican leadership in the House that whatever “good” reforms are implemented on the House floor will wind up in the garbage heap during conference with the Senate.

OBAMACARE. A doctor shortage is predicted under Obamacare:

Getting face time with the family doctor could soon become even harder.

A shortage of primary care physicians in some parts of the country is expected to worsen as millions of newly insured Americans gain coverage under the federal health care law next year. Doctors could face a backlog, and patients could find it difficult to get quick appointments.

Attempts to address the provider gap have taken on increased urgency ahead of the law’s full implementation Jan. 1, but many of the potential solutions face a backlash from influential groups or will take years to bear fruit.

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