WASHINGTON, D.C. Dec. 28, 2012 – The Senate today rejected an amendment to the Hurricane Sandy disaster aid package (H.R. 1) that aimed to reimburse ranchers, fruit growers, and farmers affected this year by wildfires and drought.

The Senate voted 55-40 not to waive a budget point of order, raised by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., against the amendment, which was offered by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. Sixty “aye” votes were required.

The vote, which stripped the amendment of an emergency designation, prompted Merkley to withdraw the language.

“When your land is burned up, when you have the worst drought in a century, this is an emergency and getting help six or eight months after it happens is unacceptable” Merkley said before the vote. “We have a responsibility having not gotten the farm bill done to do these emergency provisions today.”

After the vote, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) told Merkley that her committee “would like to help” so “that we don’t have our agricultural interests hanging out there.”

“This is a compelling human need,” Mikulski said.


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