Farm Bill Implodes on House Floor

Jun 26, 2013

Farm Bill Implodes on House Floor

House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team experienced an embarrassing defeat last week when the House rejected a major five-year Farm Bill [H.R. 1947].  After working on the bill for two full days, and considering more than 100 amendments, the House voted down the bill 195 to 234. 

A Floor defeat of a major bill is almost unheard of in the House of Representatives, where the majority party controls nearly every aspect of a bill’s consideration.  Most Democrats opposed the bill because it contained a $20.5 billion cut in food assistance, which would have pushed 1.8 million low-income people – half of them children – off the program.  Joining them were 62 House Republicans who, ironically, voted against the bill because they didn’t think the food assistance cuts were deep enough.  Rep. Levin voted against the bill.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate easily approved its own version of the Farm legislation [S. 954] on a bipartisan vote of 66 to 27.  The current law expires September 30, which means that Congress will need to pass some extension of the existing law to ensure that nutrition and farm programs continue.  

 

Keeping College Affordable

The clock is ticking: Without action, student loan rates will double on July 1st.  That will mean a step back for our economy, for young people, for workers, and for the middle class.  The House and Senate should not adjourn for the July 4th recess without first taking action to help make a college education affordable for American students.  Rep. Levin has cosponsored legislation [H.R. 1595] to extend the low student loan interest rate for two years.  

 

New Resources for Health Reform Benefits

With less than 100 days before you will be able to purchase health insurance in a new, one-stop-shop Marketplace, the Department of Health and Human Services has relaunched its website, HealthCare.gov.  On October 1, with the opening of enrollment in these new Health Insurance Marketplaces, Americans who are looking for health coverage will have new access to quality health insurance coverage.  The Marketplaces will provide a choice among numerous private health plans and provide sliding-scale premium tax credits to make the coverage affordable.

Healthcare.gov now has resources for you to learn about the new marketplace and how the new health reform law benefits you.  Additionally, there is a new 24-hour call center at 1-800-318-2596 if you have questions or need assistance.

 

All of the Above, or Oil Above All?

When President Obama talks about his Administration’s energy policy, he refers to it as an “All of the Above” strategy, which simply means that all sources of energy are included: Continuing to expand responsible oil and gas development, increasing the fuel economy of the vehicles, supporting renewable energy sources, and investing in infrastructure and research and development.  All of these play a role in increasing our nation’s energy security, including domestic oil production which is at a 20-year high.

When the Leadership of the House of Representatives brings up energy legislation for consideration, it is more of an “Oil Above All” strategy.  Over the last two years, there have been repeated efforts to expand drilling on both public lands and offshore areas.  This week the House will consider yet another drilling bill [H.R. 2231] that would open up vast offshore areas of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as offshore areas of Alaska, to oil and gas production.