Stabenow, Boozman differ on Biden’s American Rescue Plan
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Senate Agriculture ranking member John Boozman, R-Ark., frequently emphasize their joint commitment to bipartisanship, but they are taking opposing viewpoints on President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which is moving through Congress under budget reconciliation procedures.
Stabenow is an enthusiastic campaigner for passage of the bill, which passed the House on Democratic votes and is expected to pass the Senate in the same fashion.
On Wednesday, in her position as chair of the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, Stabenow released a report detailing the need for the legislation. She has also scheduled a news conference today with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., to promote the bill.
In a joint statement, Stabenow, Wyden, Menendez and Ossoff said, “Currently, 19 million Americans are relying on unemployment benefits and millions are struggling to pay rent, keep the lights on and the water running, and put food on the table for their families. The U.S. Senate is taking up a comprehensive package of legislation this week that would provide $1,400 checks, extend enhanced unemployment benefits and increase the federal supplemental unemployment benefit. The bill will also provide assistance for renters and homeowners, extend SNAP benefits and bolster other vital nutrition assistance to help ensure families, children and seniors don’t go hungry.”
Boozman on Wednesday warned that passage of the bill could trigger statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules that could result in automatic spending cuts to farm programs.
“Triggering PAYGO is a very real risk that this bill carries, and if that happens, our family farmers will be among those who will be hurt the most. In their rush to fill this bill with non-COVID-related spending, Congressional Democrats have recklessly put the farm community at risk just when the agriculture economy is starting to turn a corner after several difficult years,” Boozman said.
Under statuary PAYGO, the Office of Management and Budget is required to maintain five- and 10-year scorecards that show the cumulative estimated deficit impacts of legislation, Boozman explained.
“If either scorecard indicates a net increase in the deficit, OMB is required to order a sequestration of all non-exempt programs, which includes important farm safety net programs,” Boozman said. “PAYGO sequestration cuts can be prevented by waiving the cuts, but that requires 60 votes. This is a threshold Senate Democrats are seeking to avoid by utilizing the reconciliation process to pass their legislative priorities, like a bailout fund for states.
“Agricultural producers have faced tough economic times over the last several years. Instead of continuing the precedent of working together on COVID relief, the Biden administration and Congressional Democrats have opted to use reconciliation so they could pass unrelated items from their wish list. It is wrong to ask our farmers to pay for all this additional non-COVID spending.”
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