Goodlatte: Finish the Farm Bill without Tax Increases
House Farm Bill Conferees Named and Instructed to Leave Taxes Out of the Bill
Today, Agriculture Committee Ranking Republican Bob Goodlatte offered a motion on the House Floor to instruct conferees not to agree to any provisions that increase taxes in a final farm bill agreement. This motion sets the tone for the conference committee as it moved forward in negotiating the differences between the House- and Senate-passed farm bills. Six Republican Members of the House Agriculture Committee, plus a member of the Republican Leadership, were named to the official conference committee (names included below). The motion to instruct passed by a 400-11 margin demonstrating the bipartisan belief that taxes do not belong in a farm bill.
Last summer, after earning bipartisan support in the Agriculture Committee, a variety of tax increases were added to the House farm bill causing the majority of Republicans to withdraw their support of the bill. The Majority has since removed the tax provisions and pledged not to add any further tax increases.
"While there are still some funding issues that need to be worked out and many policy decisions to be negotiated, these instructions are very clear in stating that tax increases cannot be used to fund the remaining elements of the farm bill. Farm bills have long enjoyed bipartisan support in this body and it would be devastating to American agriculture to add a divisive element, such as tax increases, to this bill," said Ranking Member Goodlatte in his Floor statement.
The farm bill has faced budgetary problems since the adoption of the budget last year. Due to increased commodity prices, the baseline projection for commodity programs was nearly $60 billion below the funding available for the 2002 Farm Bill which meant there was less money available to move around within the bill to address emerging needs. Recognizing that without the funds needed to make good on the promises made to a variety of groups, the Majority added taxes to the farm bill to ensure the support of their colleagues. Although the Agriculture Committee passed the farm bill with unanimous bipartisan support, the addition of tax increases caused many Republicans to vote against a bill they may have otherwise supported.
The House passed its tax-laden farm bill, H.R. 2419, the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007, on July 27, 2007 while the Senate passed its version of the bill on December 14, 2007. Since there are significant differences between the bills, a conference committee comprised of House and Senate members from relevant committees has been appointed to put together a compromise agreement that must then be approved by both chambers. The 2002 Farm Bill expired on September 20, 2007. It has since been extended twice and the current authorization expires April 18th.
House Agriculture Committee Republican Conferees include:
Bob Goodlatte, R-VA
Frank Lucas, R-OK
Jerry Moran, R-KS
Robin Hayes, R-NC
Marilyn Musgrave, R-CO
Randy Neugebauer, R-TX
Adam Putnam, R-FL (Leadership appointed Rep. Putnam as an additional Ag Conferee)