27 Bipartisan Members of Congress Unite to Oppose “Secret Farm Bill”

By Ben Grossman-Cohen

Today 27 bipartisan members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the Chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the Super Committee) urging them to resist efforts by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to use the Super Committee process to effectively rubberstamp a ‘Secret Farm Bill’ without subjecting it to congressional review:

“We are greatly troubled by any attempt to use the Joint Select Committee to authorize costly new mandatory programs without adequate Congressional review,” states the letter signed by Democrats and Republicans from the House.  “It has become apparent that some believe they can create new programs and entitlements with limited Congressional scrutiny and input.  We urge the Joint Select Committee to resist proposals that would go beyond its mandate of deficit reduction and authorize new, complicated agriculture programs that have not been the subject of Congressional review... If the Agricultural Committees believe that these cuts will require a fundamental redesign of agricultural programs, those Committees can and should move legislation through regular order.”

In response to the bipartisan letter, Jim French, Kansas Farmer and Agriculture Advocacy Lead for Oxfam America said, “Anyone who thinks a bill driven by industry lobbyists, written behind closed doors and negotiated in secret, will be a good deal for taxpayers or the hungry should have their head examined.  The ‘Secret Farm Bill’ has done the seemingly impossible, uniting Democrats and Republicans in Congress to oppose this bad bill.  Members of the super committee should reject the ‘Secret Farm Bill’.”

\ENDS

Notes to Editors:

FULL TEXT OF LETTER:

November 3, 2011

The Honorable Patty Murray
Co-Chair, Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
 
The Honorable Jeb Hensarling
Co-Chair, Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction
129 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
 
Dear Chairwoman Murray and Chairman Hensarling:

We are writing to express our concern with reports that the House and Senate Agriculture Committees intend to use the expedited legislative process of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to authorize new Farm Bill programs and entitlements outside of regular order. As part of the Deficit Reduction process, the Agriculture Committees are responsible for reviewing existing programs and identifying where the Congress can find savings. However, we are greatly troubled by any attempt to use the Joint Select Committee to authorize costly new mandatory programs without adequate Congressional review.

As you know, Congress charged the Joint Select Committee with the task of reducing the deficit by $1.5 trillion between 2012 and 2021 and provided for its legislative recommendations to be brought to the floor of both the House and the Senate for expedited consideration. Furthermore, its recommendations are not subject to amendment or filibuster. Congress implemented these rules to dull the pain of politically contentious but fiscally responsible measures. Yet, it has become apparent that some believe they can create new programs and entitlements with limited Congressional scrutiny and input.

We urge the Joint Select Committee to resist proposals that would go beyond its mandate of deficit reduction and authorize new, complicated agriculture programs that have not been the subject of Congressional review. The Joint Select Committee should instead act to find efficiencies within existing programs. If the Agricultural Committees believe that these cuts will require a fundamental redesign of agricultural programs, those Committees can and should move legislation through regular order.

Sincerely,

Ron Kind
Earl Blumenauer
John Campbell
Donna Christensen (Virgin Islands)
Steve Cohen
Peter DeFazio
Keith Ellison
Jeff Flake
Raul Grijalva
Rush Holt
Hank Johnson
Barbara Lee
John Lewis
Tom McClintock
Gwen Moore
Jim Moran
Mick Mulvaney
John Olver
Ron Paul
Tom Petri
Joe Pitts
Adam Smith
Jackie Speier
Pete Stark
Bennie Thompson
Ed Towns
Henry Waxman

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