Clerical error sends farm bill into limbo

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With all the hurdles in this year's farm bill writing, everyone thought Wednesday's Presidential veto and the House's subsequent override would successfully wrap up one of the longest drawn out writings of the farm bill. Not so fast•.it now appears that the version that was sent to the President's desk was not the complete version approved by the House and Senate last week. And so the veto and the House's veto override vote may not stand up legally. This sent the entire process backward again with the potential for another short-term farm bill extension needed.

The farm bill expires May 23. Had the President vetoed the bill in full, the House and Senate would have had enough time to pass override votes before leaving for the Memorial Day recess May 23. Now each chamber will need to pass another short-term extension.

Apparently Title III, known as the trade title, was not printed as the full bill in taking. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed off on the bill without noticing the mistake, as well as the President. The trade title includes such important elements as the authorization for food aid, the McGovern-Dole international school lunch program and the Market Access Program.

The bill is in unchartered waters right now. Even though the House overrode the President's veto yesterday - the bill has deep constitutional flaws since the bill the President vetoed technically never passed Congress in that form. Essentially every conservation easement, food bank distribution and payment under the farm bill could be subject to any taxpayer challenging it in court saying "this bill never passed Congress."

I'm beginning to think it's the farm bill that will never end•.. As progress unfolds, check back for more updates.



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