Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Friday, November 11, 2005


Thank You and Special Update - Payment Limitations and Budget Reconciliation

Thank you everyone who worked the Grassley-Dorgan payment limitation reform-agricultural conservation funding vote! It wasn’t for lack of effort or lack of grassroots support that the amendment was voted down. We truly appreciate the thousands of calls that have poured into Capitol Hill in support of this important amendment. As many of you know by now, the vote to waive the point of order and proceed to a vote on the Grassley-Dorgan amendment proper was defeated by a vote of 46-53, 14 votes short of the supermajority of 60 needed to overcome the point of order. By comparison, the 2002 Farm Bill vote on a very similar amendment was 66 in favor and 31 against.

For the Senators you worked on who voted with us, particularly if their vote was in question, please call or email a brief note of thanks. For those Senators you worked on who went against us, it would be a good idea to let them know of your disappointment. If you need any help of any kind, let us know. We lost 17 Senators who voted for nearly the same amendment during the 2002 Farm Bill floor consideration, and picked up only two new supporters. We also lost two votes with changes in the Senate – Wellstone (D-MN) to Coleman (R-MN) and Gramm (R-TX) to Cornyn (R-TX). So that is a total of 19 switches, with gain of only two, for a net loss of 17.

Two other Senators voted no today who have voted in favor of payment limit reform in the past but were not present for the vote in 2002. Sen. Corzine (D-NJ) was not present today, but would have been a yes vote.

We lost votes for a variety of reasons, most of which did not hinge on the merits. Some Senators (Sen. Leahy, D-VT) perceived they were voting to protect Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) payments (even though the amendment had identical provisions to the underlying bill, which were in no way threatened by passage of the amendment). Some supporters of drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) switched in order to make sure they would preserve their ANWR win (the Senate voted 51-48 to defeat the amendment that tried to stop the drilling plan), by keeping the bill clean of other controversial amendments.

Some previous Republican champions of payment limit reform voted against simply on the grounds that the party has to pass the budget and some southern Senators threatened to bring down the whole budget reconciliation bill if payment reform was included. Threats and promises related to the sugar program were also in play on some votes. The opponents made the point over and over again that the debate over payment limitation reform, and over the future of conservation spending, are the proper subject for consideration in the next farm bill. We need to hold them to that promise.

Payment limitation reform has not been seriously debated in committee since the budget reconciliation act in 1986 and before that in the farm bill of 1977. The time has come, and we will be ready. The vote on final passage of the budget reconciliation bill in the Senate will come next week and the vote in the House soon after, as well as the eventual conference between the House and the Senate on vastly different food and agricultural provisions. Thank you again for your commitment and good work.

Akaka (D-HI)
Alexander (R-TN)
Allen (R-VA)
Baucus (D - MT)
Bennett (R - UT)
Biden (D - DE)
Bond (R - MO)
Boxer (D - CA)
Bunning (R - KY)
Burns (R - MT)
Carper (D - DE)
Chambliss (R-AL)
Coleman (R-MN)
Cochran (R - MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R - ID)
Crapo (R - ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dodd (D - CT)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R - NM)
Burr (R-NC)
Feinstein (D - CA)
Frist (R - TN)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R - NH)
Hutchison (R - TX)
Inhofe (R - OK)
Inouye (D - HI)
Isakson (R-GA)
Jeffords (I - VT)
Kohl (D - WI)
Kyl (R – AZ)
Landrieu (D - LA)
Leahy (D - VT)
Lieberman (D – CT)
Lincoln (D - AR)
Lott (R - MS)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R - AZ)
McConnell (R - KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nelson (D - FL)
Coburn (R-OK)
Pryor (D-AR)
Roberts (R - KS)
Rockefeller (D - WV)
Sessions (R - AL)
Shelby (R - AL)
Stevens (R - AK)
Talent (R-MO)
Vitter (R-LA)
Warner (R - VA)

The names above are the Senators that voted against payment limitations on November 3rd.

for more information post a question or comment here
or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action


  • At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Norm Coleman is a sorry excuse for a Senator. Paul Wellstone not only would have voted the right way on this he would have led the charge and made some other Democrats carry some water on this.

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