Senator Lisa Murkowski today cast her vote against the Farm Bill, which CBS News reports contains "billions of dollars of subsidies" and the AP reports has "goodies scattered throughout the nearly 1,000 page bill for members from all regions of the country," explaining her vote to Alaskans afterwards:
""I committed to Alaskans that I would make the difficult decisions when it comes to curbing federal spending. This is why I cannot in good conscience support this bill when it continues billions of dollars of wasteful spending in the Lower 48 compared to the relatively small benefits for Alaskans.
"I grant that there are provisions included in this $1 trillion Farm Bill that would benefit Alaskans. There is one year's worth of funds for PILT, reauthorization and funds for the Village Safe Water program, as well as reasonable adjustments to SNAP that will strengthen the program without harming low-income Alaskans -- but on the whole it is a bloated agreement I cannot support.
"It includes billions of dollars' worth of taxpayer giveaways to Lower 48 agribusinesses locking in last year's record-high crop prices -- with farmers approaching millionaire status are still eligible for farm subsidies. That isn't a safety net, that's a feather bed. There's also $100 million for the federal government to advertise maple syrup, and the bill adds sushi rice to the list of products that can receive these subsidies. It also provides millions in disaster assistance to fish farmers in the Lower 48, but not to commercial fishermen in Alaska.
"In short, this is business as usual in the Farm Bill and the reason I have always voted against it.
"While I have been fighting for PILT funds to compensate Alaskan communities for lost tax revenue, this four-year bill provides only one year's worth of certainty and we'll be back searching for a long term solution next year. Over the years, I have demonstrated my commitment to water and sewer funding to Village Safe Water work through the Appropriations Committee process -- where I helped deliver over $23 million in this year's Omnibus funding bill -- and will continue to do so."
The bill passed the United States Senate 68-32.