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House Passes the Agriculture Appropriations Bill with Two Garrett Amendments

Location: Washington, DC

House Passes the Agriculture Appropriations Bill with Two Garrett Amendments

Yesterday, Congressman Scott Garrett voted to pass H.R. 5384, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2007. The House passed the Act by a vote of 378 to 46.

"Having grown up around farming in the most densely populated state in the country, I take a real interest in agriculture and open space preservation programs," said Garrett. "I am convinced that this bill represents a balanced approach between good agricultural policy and fiscal responsibility."

The House considered two amendments offered by Congressman Garrett. The first was approved by the House and would end taxpayer-funded vacations for Federal employees. The House passed similar language authored by Garrett during debate on the Interior appropriations bill last week, and on several appropriations bills over the last two years. Since 2000, Federal agencies have spent more than $1.4 billion sending hundreds of Federal employees to conferences in resort locations such as Los Cabos, Mexico; Vienna, Austria; and Barcelona, Spain. The Garrett amendment would limit the number of attendees sent to these overseas locales.

"With so many very legitimate Federal funding priorities, is it outrageous that so much has been spent to send Federal employees on taxpayer-funded vacations. The practice simply has to stop," said Garrett

The House also approved a Garrett amendment which would prohibit spending on food stamps in violation of the law. Federal law states that sponsors of incoming aliens must sign an affidavit that the immigrant will not become dependent on welfare programs for ten years or until the immigrant becomes a US citizen - whichever comes first. "We are a generous people, but we have made a determination that we should not encourage people to emigrate to the U.S. so that they may partake in our generous public assistance programs," said Garrett. "Yet that is precisely what happens all too often. If the law is worth keeping on the books, it's worth enforcing."

Congressman Garrett also spoke on the floor in strong support of open space preservation, specifically mentioning a farmland parcel in Wantage, New Jersey bordering the Wallkill Wildlife Refuge that is in jeopardy of development. Agriculture Appropriations Chairman Henry Bonilla spoke with Garrett on the floor and offered his support of strong open space preservation policies.

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