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A bipartisan group of 44 Senators sent a letter today urging leadership to allow for “timely” action on the pending farm bill reauthorization.
Sens. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the lead signatories on the letter, asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to bring the legislation to the floor. Although the Senate has been on a positive legislative swing lately, passing several major bills that await House approval, there has been some concern the leaders will not take up the farm bill, which reauthorizes programs set to expire by the end of the year.
“With our constant focus on job creation, we write to urge you to schedule floor consideration of the ‘Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012’ as soon as possible,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “The bill takes steps to reduce the deficit and decrease government spending by $23 billion ... [and] sets an example of how Senators can come together in a bipartisan way to craft meaningful, yet fiscally responsible, policy. We believe there is strong support in the full Senate to consider the bill in a fair and open manner that allows Senators the opportunity to offer amendments.”
The bill, which passed out of committee on a 16-5 vote, would cut $23 billion from the deficit. The legislation addresses farm subsidies and other programs for farmers and ranchers, but the majority of the bill deals with nutrition programs. As proposed, the bill would cut $4 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as the food stamp program.
A wide range of Senators signed the letter to the leaders, including an assortment of leaders and freshmen of both parties.