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Farm Subsidy Attacked As Welfare

Sat., Oct. 14, 1995

Four Republican House members circulated a letter Friday to colleagues attacking as “welfare” a bill being pushed by House GOP leaders to revamp farm-subsidy programs.

Reps. Bill Emerson of Missouri, Larry Combest of Texas, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Richard Baker of Louisiana said they would have “great difficulty” supporting the budget reconciliation bill if it includes the measure authored by Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

The bill would scrap the current system of crop subsidies in favor of a direct payment to farmers that would decline over seven years, saving $13.4 billion. The payments would no longer be tied to the market prices of crops.

“Transforming current farm programs into strict welfare payments as the Freedom to Farm Act would do is contrary to the underlying principles of our Republican conference,” the four lawmamkers’ letter says.

Even though House leaders back the bill, the four rebels voted with Agriculture Committee Democrats last month to defeat it. Roberts then used his powers as chairman to take it directly to the Budget Committee for inclusion in the reconciliation bill.

The reconciliation bill is the blueprint ensuring government program spending matches up with budget targets previously passed by the Republican Congress.

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