This vote was on a motion that would have delayed a final vote on a bill authorizing support for farmers and low-income Americans until the Senate Agriculture Committee eliminated about one-quarter of its spending.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) offered the “motion to recommit,” which would have required the farm bill to be pulled from consideration and sent back to the Agriculture Committee. Senate Democrats hoped to hold a vote on final passage of the farm bill the next day. But if the motion were successful, the final vote would have been delayed. The bill could have been brought back for consideration only after its spending was cut from an estimated $969 billion to about $714 billion over 10 years.
Sen. Lee argued that more spending needed to be cut from the bill to help address the federal budget deficit.
“We cannot continue to kick this can down the road in perpetuity. Our spending levels threaten to impair our ability to fund everything from defense to entitlements and everything that falls in between,” Sen. Lee said. “If we want to continue the same budgeting process that has put us nearly $16 trillion in debt, then we should proceed to vote against this (motion). If, on the other hand, we want to turn this around and maintain our ability to fund essential government programs, we need to pass this.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who opposed the motion, argued that the bill’s authors had already cut spending in the farm bill. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill, when compared to existing law authorizing programs to help farmers and low-income Americans, would cut $23.6 billion in spending over the following decade.
“Frankly, we believe, in (the) Agriculture (Committee), on a bipartisan basis, that we have done our job,” Sen. Stabenow said. “We have scoured every page, reduced the deficit by $23 billion-plus, and eliminated 100 different programs and authorizations within our jurisdiction. Frankly, I think we are offering, within what we can do, reform and deficit reduction of which we should all feel very proud.”
The Senate defeated Sen. Lee’s motion to recommit by a vote of 29-70. Voting “yea” were 29 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 53 Democrats and 17 Republicans. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to delay a final vote on a bill authorizing support for farmers and low-income Americans until the Senate Agriculture Committee eliminated about one-quarter of its spending.