Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Arizona Congressional Delegation Splits On Today's $956B Farm Bill Passage; Funds PILT Payments To Arizona's Rural Counties

All 4 of Arizona's Republican Representatives and the two "safe" Democrats voted against the $956 Billion Farm Bill package today, though it passed by a vote of 251-166.  The three Democrats in swing districts voted "aye", with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) calling it "a good day for rural Arizona".

A solid majority of the House's GOP members voted in favor of it (162-63) - Arizona's four Republican Congressmen (Franks, Gosar, Salmon, Schweikert) bucked that trend.

Congressional Democrats were more mixed, with 89 joining with the GOP majority to pass the bill, and 103 saying no.  Reps. Grijalva and Pastor voted "nay", while Reps. Barber, Kirkpatrick and Sinema said yes.

According to The Hill, Republican no votes were upset with the overall cost and how the Republican leadership rushed it through; none of Arizona's GOP Reps have Tweeted about the bill this morning.  The Hill's article also says that Democratic ire focused on the cuts to food stamps;  $8 Billion was cut, more than the Senate version of the bill and less than the original House proposal.

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD1) was the first Arizona member to send out reaction to this morning's vote, and she noted her earlier speeches in which she "called on both parties to work together and craft a bipartisan Farm Bill we can all support. That’s what happened today – and it’s good day for the farmers, families and local economies across District One and our nation.”  (Kirkpatrick's complete statement is below the jump.)

She was particularly pleased that the bill reauthorized and funded PILT (payments in lieu of taxes) obligations.  PILT payments are from the federal government to local governments in areas where much of the land is owned by the federal government - and is thus, not available for the property tax base;  only three other states receive more in PILT payments than Arizona.

Kirkpatrick had introduced a plan to make PILT reauthorization permanent.  Her spokesperson Jennifer Johnson tells Arizona's Politics that the Congresswoman "will continue to push her legislation to make PILT reauthorization permanent and give rural counties more stability and less financial uncertainty as they budget and plan."

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) also released a statement, noting that the final bill contains an amendment that she co-introduced to protect against "foreign agribusinesses that fraudulently use American trademarks to mislabel their produce."  (Sinema's complete statement is below the jump.)

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., released the following statement about today’s House passage of a bipartisan Farm Bill:

“This is a good day for rural Arizona. My district has a long history of farming and ranching – my family had a ranch in the White Mountains – so we know firsthand the importance of a Farm Bill to our local economies. I was especially pleased that this Farm Bill funds the PILT program, which helps rural counties in my district carry out vital services such as firefighting, law enforcement and construction of public schools and roads. Earlier this year, I called on both parties to work together and craft a bipartisan Farm Bill we can all support. That’s what happened today – and it’s good day for the farmers, families and local economies across District One and our nation.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Sinema voted in support of a five-year Farm Bill, a product of months of bipartisan negotiations in Congress. The Farm Bill authorizes funding for a variety of agriculture and nutrition programs that support Arizona families and farmers.

“Last year, I called on Congress to put partisan games aside and pass a complete, bipartisan Farm Bill,” said Sinema. “While this bill is not a perfect agreement, it is the result of both sides coming together to provide certainty for Arizona farmers and families.”

“I voted for this bill because it makes needed reforms to our farm programs. It ends the direct payments program that pays farmers whether they farm or not – this currently costs taxpayers around $4.5 billion annually. It requires farmers to meet conservation requirements in order to receive crop insurance premium subsidies, and renews important programs for beginning farmers and organic agriculture. This agreement also restores most of the $40 billion in cuts initially proposed to federal nutrition funding, cuts I worked to reverse for hungry Arizona families, and children. As a result, there will be no cuts to Arizona’s share of federal nutrition funding. Arizona families will continue to receive the assistance they need to put food on the table.”

“Also included in this agreement is a bipartisan amendment that I introduced with Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa of California. Our amendment protects Arizona small businesses by providing an additional, commonsense safeguard against foreign agribusinesses that fraudulently use American trademarks to mislabel their produce. I will continue to work toward reasonable solutions that provide certainty for our families and our businesses, reduce our deficit in a responsible manner, and create much-needed jobs for hardworking Arizonans.”
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