Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Farm Bill passes Congress w/ votes to Override a Veto

So a couple of farm bill updates came out and they strike me as a little odd. America's Second Harvest is urging supporters to contact Congress to ensure Congress overrides the imminent Presidential Veto. Bread for the World states that it's pretty much a done deal and calls for no action. In fact, the presidential veto is based on Bush's viewpoint that US subsidies in the Farm Bill need to be capped...something that Bread has been advocating for all year. So, what is an anti-poverty advocate to think?

I think two things:
1) This is one of those times where the desire to eradicate domestic and international poverty diverge. Domestic hunger interest groups would want the bill passed quickly, while International hunger groups would want the veto to prevail. Groups like Bread for the World that advocate for everybody are just trying to cut the best deal as fast as possible, but it seems no longer possible to get everything for everybody.

America's Second Harvest wants this done and over with so that the increases in nutrition programs can start flowing to Americans who desperately need help. The longer we operate under the 2002 Farm Bill, the harder it is for them in this time of rising food and gas prices. Bread wanted those nutrition increases as well, but they could have been achieved with the subsidy caps to pay for them. Doing that would have helped poor farmers in developing nations as well as farmers of modest means in the US who are often on Food Stamps themselves. It would have been a more comprehensive approach. In this respect, President Bush is pushing for the more intelligent, forward-thinking plan(wow!), but his attempt to help is failing as well.

2) Advocacy at this point one way or the other wouldn't be effective because they passed with enough votes to override a veto. I'm not sure why advocacy would be necessary at this point.

This is where I could use a little feedback. Does anyone out there have more insight on this? Is my understanding amiss on points #1 or #2?

Here are the press releases I'm talking about...

From America's Second Harvest:
"Last week, the House and Senate passed the Farm Bill with an overwhelming majority. In fact, both houses were able to muster enough votes to override a presidential veto. However, the work is not yet done. The President still plans to veto the Farm Bill, sending it back to Congress before it can become law. Therefore, if your Member of Congress voted in favor of the Farm Bill, it is critically important to contact them, thank them for their vote, and urge them to override the President's veto. If they opposed the Farm Bill, you can explain why the Farm Bill and federal nutrition programs are important to you and your community. We encourage you to contact each of your legislators through the Hunger Action Center to ensure that the Farm Bill will be passed once and for all! "

From Bread for the World:
"The Farm Bill passed the House and Senate this week, in numbers large enough to withstand a presidential veto. In the House, the final vote was 318-106 in support of the bill. The Senate passed it on a vote of 81-15. It takes two-thirds of each chamber to override a presidential veto. The bill clearly has enough support in Congress if President Bush follows through on his stated intention to veto the legislation."

No comments: