House quickly overrides farm bill veto
Washington D.C. — Republicans Jim Ramstad and Michelle Bachmann were the only members of Minnesota's Congressional delegation to vote Wednesday against overriding the president's veto of a huge farm bill.
The override passed the House by an overwhelming margin, 316-108, but a re-vote is also likely because of a technical glitch.
A 34-page section of the bill was omitted when sent to the White House, which means the President vetoed a different bill than Congress passed.
The potential that the $290 billion law would therefore be unconstitutional means both chambers will likely have to pass the bill again, then wait for the president to veto it again before having another override vote.
The legislation includes subsidies for farmers and food stamps for the poor.
In order to avoid a partisan dustup, House Democrats plan to pass the entire bill, again, on Thursday under expedited rules usually reserved for non-controversial 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.
Lawmakers also will have to pass an extension of current farm law, which expires Friday.
Bush says the legislation is too expensive and would send too much government money to wealthy farmers. A bipartisan group of negotiators on the bill made small cuts to subsidies to appease the White House, but Bush said it wasn't enough.
The veto was the 10th of Bush's presidency, but Congress had overridden him only once before, on a water projects bill.
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.
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.
The farm bill also would:
- 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.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)