Morning Action: In A Rash Move, House Votes on Unreformed Farm Bill Today
FARM BILL. The whole point of separating food stamps from the farm bill was so that both programs could be reformed, but now the House will vote on an unreformed farm bill today. No substantive reforms were made to the legislation, and it only makes matters worse:
The House has split up the farm-related programs and food stamps, which is great news. However, they didn’t make a single reform. That’s not the worst part, though.
Every five years or so, Congress passes a new farm bill. The entire purpose of this reauthorization process is for Congress to fix the law if problems exist. The House appears to be doing away with this process for many of the most costly farm program provisions. As a result, bad public policy could be locked in indefinitely.
House leaders have sold this flawed farm-related bill in part by getting rid of existing “permanent law.” So it may surprise many that the bill would just replace this existing permanent law with new permanent law that may even be broader in scope.
Further, the House introduced the text of its farm-only bill last night, and current plans are to vote on the bill as soon as mid-morning today. They are rushing it through the process and not giving members a chance to offer amendments, properly review the bill, or even determine the extent of this potential bait and switch when it comes to permanent law.
We are key voting against this egregiously flawed legislation.
IMMIGRATION. The House will not take up the Gang of Eight amnesty bill but will instead take a step by step approach (sub. req’d):
House Republicans emerged from their hotly anticipated closed-door meeting on immigration Wednesday united against the Senate-passed bill, but no closer to an agreement on their own policies to address the controversial issue.
However, House GOP leaders released a joint statement declaring that the chamber would move forward on immigration in a piecemeal fashion, rather than attempting the comprehensive approach taken by the Senate.
“[We] affirmed that rather than take up the flawed legislation rushed through the Senate, House committees will continue their work on a step-by-step, common-sense approach to fixing what has long been a broken system,” GOP leaders said in a joint statement released on Wednesday evening.
Heritage has outlined a positive approach to immigration reform.
STUDENT LOANS. The Senate came to an agreement on student loan interest rates Wednesday night (sub. req’d):
A deal was struck Wednesday night among a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators to reverse a federal student loan interest rate increase that occurred July 1, according to a Senate GOP aide.
The proposal was crafted Wednesday in Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin’s office, and proponents anticipate a Senate vote on it next week, perhaps as early as Tuesday, the aide said.
Under the agreement, interest rates on new federal student loans would vary based on the market and would be pegged to the 10-year Treasury note, plus 1.8 percent for both the subsidized and unsubsidized portions of the Stafford loan, plus 3.4 percent for graduate loans and plus 4.5 percent for PLUS loans.
Before passing another student loan bill, Congress should ascertain the true cost of these subsidies to taxpayers by using the fair value accounting method. Moreover, the federal government should eventually get out of the student loan business altogether.
OBAMACARE. All Senate Republicans sent a letter to President Obama asking for the permanent delay of Obamacare’s implementation. The letter states:
We write to express concern that in your recent decision to delay implementation of the employer mandate, you have unilaterally acted and failed to work with Congress on such a significant decision. Further, while your action finally acknowledges some of the many burdens this law will place on job creators, we believe the rest of this law should be permanently delayed for everyone in order to avoid significant economic harm to American families.
Heritage’s Chris Jacobs has explained what conservatives should do next with Obamacare. Only a full, complete, total defunding of Obamacare will prevent any further damage on the American people.
ENERGY & WATER. The House passed a $30.4 billion energy and water appropriations bill Wednesday (sub. req’d):
The House on Wednesday passed a fiscal 2014 Energy-Water spending measure that would provide $30.4 billion for the Energy Department, Interior Department and Army Corps of Engineers.
Lawmakers backed the measure, 227-198, after considering more than 70 amendments over the past two days.
The bill (HR 2609) would be $2.9 billion less than the fiscal 2013 enacted level, excluding money spent on disaster relief, and $4.3 billion less than competing legislation in the Senate.