Enrolling Error Snares Farm Bill

Posted May 21, 2008 at 5:28pm

Democrats will have to pass another farm bill after the one sent to President Bush lacked an entire portion of the measure due to an enrolling error blamed on a faulty parchment printout machine.

House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) learned of the glitch late today, after President Bush vetoed the bill.

“For some reason, the machine didn’t print it out and nobody noticed it,” Peterson said. Peterson said he was told the president’s staff noticed the error after he vetoed it.

Title III of the farm bill, dealing with trade and foreign aid provisions, was omitted as a result. Democrats plan to correct the error by passing that title as a separate bill under a rule Thursday, Peterson said.

Peterson said that they had asked the Parliamentarians if they could simply re-enroll the bill and send it to the president, but the Parliamentarians objected.

“After all I’ve been through, I thought, what can happen today?” Peterson said.

Peterson predicted that the provision on its own would still have enough support to override a veto, although he held out hope that Bush might sign it.

A $2 billion enrolling error in the Deficit Reduction Act signed by Bush in 2006 resulted in numerous lawsuits contesting its constitutionality. Peterson said he hoped his bill would avoid that fate.

“There better not be any damn lawsuits. I’m tired of it,” he said of the bill.

Kevin Smith, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), questioned the move.

“The fate of Title III, and the constitutionality of this legislation, is unclear at this point,” Smith said in a statement. Smith also noted that after the deficit-reduction glitch, then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked for an ethics investigation.