Thursday, May 22, 2008

Stuff Happens

Yesterday, Ruth made clear her displeasure with the White House for the President's veto of the Farm Bill. I had hoped to cheer her up this morning with news of a veto override by both the House and the Senate.

Alas, a technical screw-up made that impossible, according to this AP report.

Oh, the House vote to override wasn't even close, 316-to-108, and the Senate vote looked to be a similar rejection, but somebody noticed something quite embarrassing:

... action stalled after the discovery that a 34-page section of the bill had been omitted from the printed bill sent to the White House. That means Bush vetoed a different bill from the one Congress passed, raising questions that the eventual law would be unconstitutional.

That means the process starts all over again.

...House Democrats hoped to pass the entire bill, again, on Thursday under expedited rules usually reserved for noncontroversial legislation, and the Senate was expected to follow suit. The correct version would then be sent to Bush under a new bill number for another expected veto.

The new version will have a little tweaking in it, mostly in the form of a tiny reduction in the subsidies to farmers Mr. Bush allegedly objected to (like the veto was really about not handing corporate "farmers" more money), but the meat of the bill will remain intact (the part I suspect Mr. Bush really didn't like):

About two-thirds of the bill would pay for nutrition programs such as food stamps, about $40 billion is for farm subsidies and additional $30 billion would go to farmers to idle their land and to other environmental programs. ...

-Boost nutrition programs by more than $10 billion over 10 years and expand a program to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to schoolchildren.

-Cut a per-gallon ethanol tax credit for refiners from 51 cents to 45 cents. The credit supports the blending of fuel with the corn-based additive. More money would go to cellulosic ethanol, made from plant matter.

-Require that meats and other fresh foods carry labels with their country of origin.

It's hardly a perfect bill, but it contains enough good stuff for everyone, including the Republican congresscritters, that it's hard not to hope the new bill gets to the President's desk by Friday.

Here's the beautiful part:

Congressional Republicans overwhelmingly abandoned Bush in voting to override the legislation Wednesday, overlooking its cost amid public concern about the weak economy and high gas and grocery prices. GOP lawmakers are anxious about their own prospects less than six months before Election Day.

You know, if the Democrats really have overcome their scoliosis, this could be a really productive six months for Congress.

So, Ruth, hang in there.

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