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McConnell Calls for Fair and Open Amendment Process for Farm Bill

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Location: Washington, DC

‘I am a little perplexed as to whether or not the majority actually wants this bill to pass'

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday regarding the Majority's decision to block an open amendment process for the Farm Bill:

"The remarks I'm about to make could have been made by my colleague on the other side of the aisle when his party was in the minority. We all know that we will pass a farm bill. The amendments list on our side is actually about 120 and the Democratic list is 140. Approximately 265 amendments just on the list.

"Before my good friend on the other side protests to me too much about this number, let me remind Senators that 246 amendments were filed to the 2002 farm bill. 339 amendments were filed to the 1996 farm bill—averaging about 300 amendments per bill.

"In fact, when Republicans were attempting to move the 1996 farm bill through the Senate, Senator Harkin himself filed 35 amendments. So if all Senators emulated the Senator from Iowa, 3,500 amendments would be the number of amendments.

"It is not at all unusual at the process of beginning a farm bill; this is a complex bill that only gets reauthorized every five years. This time it's 1,600 pages long and includes the first farm bill tax title since 1933, adding an extra degree of difficulty. However, Republicans are ready and willing to begin working in earnest to address these amendments.

"What always happens is most of the amendments go away and we gradually work down the list.

"But that is a massive bill, Mr. President. The notion -- if I can lift it here -- the notion that we're going to basically call up a bill of this magnitude, file cloture, and basically have no amendments strikes me as, shall I say, odd at least. What we always do is try to work out an orderly way to go forward, and the issue of getting a fixed amendment list, which we were prepared to enter into last night is the way it usually begins.

"I am a little perplexed as to whether or not the majority actually wants this bill to pass and is trying to simply blame the minority for trying to bring it down.

"Now, we all know, I'm sure anybody who's followed the Senate at all knows we're going to pass a farm bill. No question about that. The farm bill is not going to be killed. The issue is whether we're going to have any kind of reasonable process for going forward. And I think getting an amendment list is the first step.

"I was hoping that we could do that, but apparently that is not the case and I regret that we are where we are. But let me reassure everyone, I don't think there's anybody in the country who thinks we aren't going to pass a farm bill and nobody is going to kill the farm bill.

"But we're going to insist on a reasonable procedure for going forward, and with that I yield the floor."


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