Congress will soon break for its holiday recess and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, chair of the Agriculture Committee, fears the proposed Farm Bill will not pass this year. Harkin, a Democrat, says Republicans are clogging up the works by threatening to attach a batch of amendments to the Farm Bill that have nothing to do with farming.
"Clearly, with just two legislative weeks remaining before Christmas, we’re heading towards a train wreck. Let’s be clear, this is not an accident, "Harkin says,"it’s been plotted and planned at the White House. They want to portray Congress as a do-nothing Congress. The only thing they can hope for at the White House is that they can push the ratings of Congress lower than the president’s."
Harkin draws the comparison between 11-billion dollars, the amount by which the various spending bills exceed the president’s budget requests, and the 12-billion dollars Bush wants to spend –monthly– in Iraq. Harkin says: "This train wreck strategy is reckless. It’s irresponsible. The president’s claim that he’s a fiscal conservative is just plain laughable, especially after six years of deficits and out-of-control spending. This is the same president who took the record budget surpluses of the Clinton years and turned them into the largest budget deficits in history."
Harkin says Republicans are keeping the Farm Bill from coming to the floor by threatening to attach amendments ranging from a ban on driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants to a repeal of the estate tax.
Harkin says: "They’ve said that they want an open process where they can just attach any Christmas tree ornament they want. I’ve heard four or five different immigration things. I’ve heard of things like a flat tax they want to debate and have an amendment, all kinds of stuff like that which have absolutely no relevancy and are not germane to the Farm Bill what so ever."
Harkin says it’s unthinkable that the Farm Bill, which passed the Ag Committee unanimously, would be under such distress before it can go to a vote on the Senate floor. He says, "It’s bad policy and bad for our country."