Ag Policy Blog

Ag-Related Amendments in the Senate Budget Debate

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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In burning midnight oil and early-morning coffee on Friday night and Saturday morning, the Senate debated a broad array of amendments related to agriculture or rural economics as Democrats in the Senate pushed ahead with their budget resolution.

Personally, I spent Friday night and Saturday morning driving to St. Louis for a Comic Con with my son, who is 11 and loves those events. I saw many eclectic characters Saturday in and out of the convention center.

We then got caught in quite a snowstorm trekking across Missouri on our way back to Southwest Iowa. The storm provided far more snow in Northwest Missouri than it did in Iowa or Nebraska.

I realize a comic and science-fiction convention holds little meaning to the rest of the world, but neither does the Senate debate on its budget, which is, after all, a non-binding resolution on virtually everything the senators adopted.

Here is a wrap up of some of the amendments taken up by the Senate:

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, promote exports. Agreed by a voice vote. Portman and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced the amendment to renew Trade Promotion Authority for the president. TPA expired in 2007.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., Establish a deficit-neutral fund to ensure the Bureau of Land Management collaborates with states in efforts to promote sustainable sage-grouse populations and the conservation of sage-grouse habitat by developing and approving state plants that prevent the listing of the bird under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Agreed to by a voice vote.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, requiring the labeling of genetically engineered fish. Agreed to by a voice vote.

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., amend broadband infrastructure investments in rural Areas. Agreed to by unanimous consent.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., increase funding for the inland waterways system. Agreed to by unanimous consent.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., promote investment and job growth in the U.S. manufacturing, oil and gas production and refining sectors through the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Agreed, 62-37.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., exempt remote sales of business inputs from marketplace fairness requirement of allowing states to enforce state and local-use tax laws. Agreed to by unanimous consent.

Sen. John Warner, D-Va., repeal or reduce the estate tax, but only if done in a fiscally responsible way. Agreed, 80-19.

Those that failed:

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., sought to permanently eliminate the federal estate tax. Failed, 46-53.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., related to protecting the interests of the United States in making a decision related to the Keystone XL pipeline. Failed, 33-66.

In highlighting a few other issues that didn't get a debate or vote:

Begich sought to provide transparency in crop-insurance subsidies by requiring the disclosure of every individual who received a premium subsidy.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., sought to change both biofuel feedstock programs and end the sugar program.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., tried to make changes to the value-added produce programs to revent spending taxpayer dollars on wasteful government giveaways.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., wanted to prevent any legislation that would allow funds to be used to enforce any oil refinery rule or regulation against family farms.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., tried to enact cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, some of which had been included in the House or Senate farm bills.

Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., had an amendment to prevent the EPA from conducting aerial surveillance of agricultural operations.

Sen. Jon Cornyn, R-Texas, offered an amendment to exempt farmers and ranchers in foreclosure from a tax increase.

Hoeven offered an amendment to maintain funding for the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., offered to eliminate the use of SNAP benefits to purchase junk food.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had an amendment to prevent the regulation on the size and quantity of food and beverages.

There were also a broad array of amendments on reducing greenhouse gases or preventing regulation and restrictions on energy due to greenhouse gases. The Senate voted against a proposal to ensure any revenue from a carbon tax be used for deficit reduction. An amendment also failed that would have required any carbon tax to receive 60 votes.

I can be found on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN.


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W Lee Deutsche
3/26/2013 | 11:05 AM CDT
Interesting and hopeful that permanent elimination of estate taxes only failed by seven votes, A huge thank-you to Senator Thune. Springfield,Illinois is the comic capital of U.S.A.
Bonnie Dukowitz
3/25/2013 | 2:53 PM CDT
I am thankfull for your articles, Chris. You are sometimes in need of guidance. The comic convention is in every state capital and in D.C.