Thursday, May 15, 2008

House Passes Farm Bill With Veto Override in Sight

Yesterday, May 14, 2008, the House of Representatives voted 318 to 106 to pass the farm bill (The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008). The bipartisan vote surpassed the 2/3 required to override a presidential veto, making it more likely that the bill, which the House has debated for seven months, will be passed into law. Several legislators from both sides of the floor voiced concern about the bill’s lack of extensive farm policy reforms. However, many other representatives, like House Agriculture Committee ranking Republican Bob Goodlatte noted that, “only 17% of the farm bill spending is devoted to farm bill programs, while nearly 70% goes to the nutrition title alone.”

The mounting need for expanded food stamp access and emergency food funding helped fuel compromise on the bill, which will provide an additional $10.4 billion in funding for nutrition programs over the next ten years out of a total budget of $289 billion. As Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders stated, “This legislation is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. I also am pleased that this bill begins to address the alarming needs of local food shelves and that my colleagues included important provisions to give access to and education on fresh, healthy produce to school children.” The Senate is expected to pass the bill with a similarly strong margin as early as today, and to reach the President as soon as May 20. If vetoed, Congress will attempt an override before the Memorial Day recess.

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