Blunt doubts Congress will pass new farm bill
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt says passing a new farm bill this year will be “almost impossible,” adding that it’s more likely that Congress will extend the current law that was passed in 2008.
After making a speech Tuesday to the St. Louis Agri-Business Club at a Bridgeton hotel, Blunt, R-Mo., was asked about the chance of a new farm passing this year. Farm bills – usually taken up every five years – dictate the country’s policies on agricultural subsidies, biofuel incentives and conservation programs.
“I think it’s almost impossible to get it done this year,” Blunt said. “You said (U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.) was talking this morning saying it was 50-50. I think that’s overly optimistic.”
Blunt – who is the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies – said while such a bill could pass in the Senate, it would have trouble getting through the U.S. House. As Minnesota Public Radio reported earlier this week, some House Republicans want major cuts in subsidies, crop insurance and conservation efforts.
"Rather than have a very short term Farm Bill, we might be better off to have an extension of the current bill and then come back and really do the five or six year bill that needs to be done,” Blunt told reporters after the speech. “I’d like to be proven wrong on that. I’m going to do everything I can to get a good farm bill passed. But I’m also going to be working hard in the Appropriations Committee to make sure that the federal government continues to focus on the research and other things the federal government has been doing for 150 years now that’s seen as a federal obligation.”
Speaking more generally about federal legislative action, Blunt told attendees that time would come when people tire of “governmental dysfunction.”
“The president got almost everything he wanted in 2009,” Blunt said. “Nothing happened in 2010. Nothing happened in 2011, with just enough exceptions to prove the rule that nothing major’s happening. And I think we’re going to have three years of this and we have got to get back to business. [That includes] having government programs work where we need government programs [and] getting these entitlement programs where they meet the coming demographics in the country. And hard decisions are going to have to be made.”
Noting that “divided government is the very best time to solve big problems,” he said not coming together on big issues was one of the big “missed opportunities” of the past year.
“Because nobody can walk away from the table and for decades point at the other side and say ‘they did it,’” Blunt said.
Blunt praises Santorum ‘courage’
Blunt also answered a question from a reporter about whether former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum should stay in the presidential contest, a comment made shortly before the Pennsylvania native suspended his campaign.
“You know, Rick Santorum is a friend of mine. I’m for Gov. Romney, but he’s going to have to decide that. I admire his courage,” said Blunt.
“I hope that Rick – who plans to be in St. Louis Friday along with former Speaker Gingrich and Gov. Romney – will begin to think about November instead of the next primary,” he added. (Santorum is among a number of prominent Republicans scheduled to appear at the National Rifle Association convention this weekend.)
Thirty minutes later, in Gettysburg, Pa., Santorum announced his decision to drop out.