Ag Amendments Appear in Senate Budget

Senate's voting spree leaves some budget amendments intact, others off the table

Published on: Mar 26, 2013

Turning in a final vote just before adjourning for Easter recess, Senate lawmakers voted 50-49 Saturday in favor of a budget plan that would, according to Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murphy, D-Wash., replace sequestration, invest in economic growth and job creation and tackle the deficit.

But a final vote for the full budget didn't come until a host of amendments were entertained, many dealing with agriculture. The Senate heard more than 100 amendments during its voting spree, ranging from healthcare provisions to acceptable soft drink sizes.

Some of the food, ag and trade amendments offered saw action, while others were left out of the discussion entirely. The following is a snippet of industry amendments.

Senates voting spree leaves some budget amendments intact, others off the table
Senate's voting spree leaves some budget amendments intact, others off the table

Amendments that were passed included:

-An effort to spur movement on renewal of the Trade Promotion Authority. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., were behind the amendment that would implement a deficit-neutral reserve fund to get the economy "back on track."

“With 95% of the world’s population beyond our borders, we must proactively engage our trading partners to tear down trade barriers," Portman said. The TPA allows Congress to lay out negotiating objectives and consultation requirements to protect American workers.

-An amendment to transfer funding from lower-priority federal programs to the inland waterways system for improved maintenance of locks and dams, which sponsor Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., says is a "threat to the national and regional economy." The amendment passed unanimously.

-Amendment 341 from Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska to establish labeling for genetically engineered fish, such as salmon.

Amendments that failed included:

-An amendment from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., to repeal the "death tax." The amendment, which was co-sponsored by 12 other senators and supported by the American Farm Bureau, failed 46-53.

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“A death in the family should not be a taxable event. Unfortunately, a majority of Senate Democrats opposed full repeal of this unfair tax on family farms and businesses, and continue to support a tax policy that hurts economic growth and job creation," Thune said regarding the amendment's rejection.

Amendments not considered included:

-An amendment to limit "onerous regulations" on the fishing industry from Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.

-Amendment 435 from Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., to maintain funding for Agricultural Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture research.

-Four amendments regarding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., continuing his platform for SNAP reform. His amendments either took pieces of his full SNAP reform bill (S. 458) or provided the whole bill as an amendment.

-An amendment from Tom Coburn, R-Okla., limiting food that can be purchased using SNAP benefits to only healthy foods.

-An amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, limiting federal regulation of food and beverage size and quantity.

As it stands, the Senate budget does include funding for a new Farm Bill. An estimated $23 billion in savings is expected to come from a new Senate farm bill under the budget plan.