Republicans Hold Fast on Farm Bill

May 9, 2008

WASHINGTON (May 9, 2008)—Just moments after details of the farm bill conference report surfaced, Republican lawmakers started signaling their support for the new bill, even if that means voting to override a possible veto by President Bush.

Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said he is backing the bill and will urge his colleagues to do the same when it reaches the Senate floor next week.

“Americans all over the country deserve a new farm bill, and we have written a bipartisan and fiscally responsible plan that merits support of the entire Congress,” he said in a recent release.

Chambliss’ counterpart in the House, Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte, is equally as enthusiastic about the bill and spent time at the White House this week to soften President Bush’s objections to the conference agreement.

“This is truly bipartisan legislation,” the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee told reporters yesterday. “There was give-and-take on all sides.”

Goodlatte noted that Bush reaffirmed his opposition to the farm bill on Wednesday but said that during that conversation the President “did indicate that members needed to vote their districts.”

This green light from the top was just the opening many Republicans needed to announce their immediate support for the pending measure.

“I am eager to get the Farm Bill on the House floor next week for a vote and on to the President’s desk. In the event that President Bush vetoes this legislation, I will vote to override the veto,” Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said to his constituents in a statement yesterday. “It is past time to ensure that sound federal agriculture policy is enacted for the American farmer.”

“The Farm Bill provides important and necessary safeguards for our food producers, and I have worked to make sure Louisiana farmers and ranchers are well represented… As it stands now, I am very pleased with this bill,” added Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.).

Randy Neugebauer, another Texas Republican was even more direct. “Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and finally take this long overdue legislation across the finish line,” he said. “Again, I urge both the Senate and House leadership to bring this to a vote as soon as possible and ask that my colleagues support this critical legislation. Most importantly, I call on President Bush to sign this bill as soon as it reaches his desk.”

Bush is also receiving pressure from Republicans in the Senate to back the farm bill, which has been under development for nearly three years now.

“I’ve been very clear in saying that vetoing this farm bill would simply be a mistake and that the President would be wrong not to sign this bill,” explained Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). “This is a critical bill and I will continue to work to ensure this becomes law.”