Morning Action: Congress Should Avert “Farm” and Immigration Bill Train Wrecks
FARM BILL. The Senate may vote on the trillion-dollar farm and food stamp bill as early as next week (sub. req’d):
Stabenow said she and ranking Republican Thad Cochran of Mississippi were still trying to negotiate an agreement on time and the number of amendments to be offered to the farm bill (S 954). Senators filed additional amendments over the Memorial Day recess, bringing the total to more than 200.
Stabenow said she was not surprised at the additional amendments.
“We’ll just have to figure out the best way (to deal with them). I think as long as we keep going, we will finish,” Stabenow said.
Last week, a Senate Democratic aide said Majority Leader Harry Reid probably would file a cloture petition to end debate on the farm bill Tuesday if Stabenow and Cochran were unable to negotiate an agreement. However, a vote on cloture would fall on Thursday, which could run into some of the ceremonies planned for Lautenberg.
Agriculture Committee member Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said it is possible a vote on passage could shift into early next week, but that should not interfere with the Judiciary Committee’s timetable for bringing a comprehensive immigration bill (S 744) to the floor the week of June 10.
Regardless of which amendments are passed, the farm and food stamp bill should not be passed. It is fiscally irresponsible and maintains the status quo of subsidizing wealthy farmers on the taxpayers’ dime. It also fails to deal effectively with our nation’s record food stamp spending and participation.
IMMIGRATION. The Gang of Eight immigration bill will head to the floor as soon as next week. Before it does, it will go through an open amendment process. Over 200 amendments will be considered, many of which are contentious:
Though no final decisions have been made by Democratic leaders on how to proceed, sources expect an open amendment process. The substantive conversation on floor strategy is expected to begin Monday evening, at the Democrats’ first leadership meeting in the Capitol after the Memorial Day recess. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he would not support a filibuster blocking the bill from being brought to the floor.
An open debate process — pushed especially by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and other GOP members of the bipartisan “gang of eight” negotiators — has been successful so far. The Senate Judiciary Committee considered more than 200 amendments before approving the amended text 13-5.
But such an approach doesn’t come without risk, despite recent comments from Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., that getting to 60 on the bill in the Senate should be “pretty easy.”The amendment process tripped up immigration the last time a comprehensive bill made it to the Senate floor in 2007, and opponents are hoping to use the floor fight to whip up another backlash against legalizing 11 million immigrants and giving them a path to citizenship.
The more amendments leaders allow, the more politically toxic votes could be held for either side. But shutting off debate too soon would open up Reid to charges that he is short-circuiting the process.
The Heritage Foundation highlights Sen. David Vitter’s (R-LA) 6 reasons to oppose comprehensive immigration.
IST. The Internet sales tax would certainly harm small businesses. Catesby Jones is a small business owner in Virginia whose business is made possible by the internet. He says he is very concerned about his business and other businesses like his if the Internet sales tax becomes law:
Proponents of the Internet sales tax want to make me a tax collector for 9,646 tax jurisdictions. Their misguided efforts could make Peace Frogs at risk for audits by 46 states, the District of Columbia and countless other U.S. territories.
We need as much help as we can get to educate Americans about this.
OBAMACARE. Today, HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify before Congress so that they can determine whether her recent fundraising efforts for Obamacare were done unethically and potentially illegally. Thus far, she has failed to be forthcoming about her actions and fundraising solicitations:
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Sebelius has gone to various undisclosed health care companies asking for money to promote Obamacare. That money will go to an outside group that will help implement the cost-increasing law. The problem here is two-fold: First, Congress didn’t authorize the department to spend money in this way. Second, it could be a conflict of interest if she asked for money from companies that her department regulates. In other words, if they didn’t do as she wished, she would have the power to come after them. Before you assume that the federal government is above such behavior, consider the IRS.
On top of that, the outside private group, Enroll America, is run by a cadre of former Obama administration officials and Obama supporters. President Obama’s political allies could benefit from the Sebelius shakedown.