On the Senate floor today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) highlighted the Farm Bill and noted that, “I want everyone within the sound of my voice, as well as my colleagues on the other side of the Capitol, to know that the Senate will not pass another temporary Farm Bill extension.”
Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“I have often said that Speaker Boehner has one of the toughest jobs in Washington. That was obvious last week, when the House Republican caucus revolted to defeat the Speaker’s farm bill. Even though the Speaker took the unusual step of announcing his support for the measure ahead of the vote, the bill still went down in flames. It was the first time the House of Representatives had voted down a farm bill since the program was created.
“I admit I was disappointed to hear House Republican leadership blame the bill’s defeat on Democrats. It was no surprise House Democrats opposed this mean-spirited bill. The legislation cut $20 billion from the safety net that keeps millions of Americans, including millions of children, from going hungry each year. The House farm bill eliminated 8 billion meals for hungry American families and children. So it’s no surprise Democrats didn’t vote for legislation that balanced the budget on the backs of America’s most vulnerable citizens.
“We’ve seen this film before. The Speaker can’t jam through legislation that amounts to a partisan love note to the Tea Party. Eventually he’ll be forced to take up a more bipartisan measure. But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. The Senate has done the hard work already.
“The Speaker should dispense with the drama and the delay, and take up the Senate farm bill now. The bill passed on an overwhelming, bipartisan vote in this chamber.
“Passing the Senate farm bill would create jobs while reducing the deficit by $23 billion. And it would make important reforms to both farm and Food Stamp programs without balancing the budget on the backs of hungry Americans.
“I’ve spoken to Secretary Vilsack and we agree that maintaining the status quo is not an option. Doing nothing means no reform, no deficit reduction and no certainty for America’s 16 million farm-industry workers. I want everyone within the sound of my voice – as well as my colleagues on the other side of the Capitol – to know that the Senate will not pass another temporary farm bill extension. It is time for real reform that protects both rural farm communities and families who need a little extra help feeding their children.
“If the Speaker took up the Senate’s bipartisan measure, it would easily pass the House with both Republican and Democratic votes. There’s no shame in passing a bill that moderates from both parties support.
“We’ve seen time and again that the Tea Party’s my-way-or-the-highway approach to legislating doesn’t work. The only way to pass a bill in either the House or the Senate is to do so with votes from both Democrats and Republicans. The Senate farm bill passed with 66 votes in this chamber. It was the perfect example of a bipartisan bill. The Speaker should allow a vote on this measure in the House.
“The immigration reform bill before the Senate is another fine example of bipartisan legislation. This bill will pass with votes from both Democrats and Republicans. And, when immigration reform passes the Senate, the Speaker should bring it up for a vote in the House of Representatives as well.
“Rather than twisting the arms of Tea Party extremists, just work with moderates from both parties to pass bipartisan legislation. And rather than trying to force legislation designed to please only the right wing, my friend the Speaker should just take the easy way out.”
Leader Reid also tweeted about the Farm Bill today:
Speaker Boehner should dispense with the drama and take up the Senate farm bill now. It would easily pass House with both GOP and Dem votes.
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) June 24, 2013