By Erik Wasson
Ryan explains reversal on farm bill vote
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday explained his vote for the 2014 farm bill despite its lack of reforms he had previous said were necessary for his support. The bill passed on a 251 to 166 vote with 63 mostly conservative Republicans voting against the measure.
“I wish this bill included more reforms to our agricultural programs,” Ryan said in a statement for the Congressional Record. “We should help the little guy — the family farm that’s in need. We shouldn’t bankroll the big guys. So we should tighten the eligibility standards for crop subsidies.”
Ryan’s House budget called for 10 times as much deficit reduction as is achieved in the farm bill. The budget had at least $165 billion in cuts to farm subsidies and food stamps, while the farm bill has a total deficit reduction of $16.6 billion.
The Budget chairman voted against a compromise farm bill in June, along with five committee chairmen, earning him an admonishment from House leadership when the bill failed embarrassingly on the House floor. He later supported a version of the bill with food stamp funding stripped out.
Ryan also said in July that he would need to see payment limitations found in the Senate bill if he were to support a final farm bill.
“I will consider supporting a conference agreement only if it includes an adjusted gross income limitation or equivalent reforms,” he said at the time.
The full Senate agreed over the objections of Agriculture Committee leaders to reduce crop insurance subsidies for farmers making more than $750,000 per year in adjusted gross income. The House farm bill did not contain the reform.
“But on the whole," Ryan said Wednesday, "I think this bill will do some good. It will save more money than if we did nothing. It will provide some much-needed certainty to family farmers. It is an improvement over the status quo, and so I support it."
Ryan also praised the bill’s $250 million for a food stamp pilot program testing new work requirements in several states.