Farm Bill: Dangers of Conference
According to multiple reports, many conservative lawmakers believe they have secured sufficient promises from their Republican leaders to justify a “yes” vote on the revised farm bill (Key Vote: NO). As a result, many conservatives appear willing to ignore the creation of new permanent farm law (a permanent entitlement to the agricultural community), which is more costly than the Senate-passed policies and those proposed by President Obama.
Regardless of what was promised by House Republican leaders with regard to a conference committee (remember, motions to instruct aren’t actually binding), it is imperative these conservative lawmakers remember what happens in conference committees. Even during the Bush-era, conference committees did not produce legislation that was more conservative than the legislation sent into the conference.
Not surprisingly, that trend has continued with divided government.
On June 29, 2012, the House voted to approve a conference report on the “surface transportation extension,” which was originally passed by the House on April 18. The bill that came out of the conference committee was significantly different and contained several unrelated items, including: 1) extension of the student loan interest rate, and 2) a five-year reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program. In the House, Democrat support for the conference committee version was unanimous (only 69 supported the original House-passed version), whereas Republican opposition nearly quadrupled.
We know this farm-only farm bill is headed to a conference with the Senate-passed farm bill. What we don’t know is what product will emerge from the conference. If history is any indication, we know the final product will be very appealing to big-government liberals and appalling to conservatives who should be trying to reduce the size and scope of government. Conservatives are prepared to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.