WASHINGTON, Jan. 4, 2013 – House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., refuses to work on a new five-year farm bill until House Republican leadership commits to bringing the legislation to the floor. Although House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said last month that the earliest a farm bill markup could occur would be late February, no committee meeting has yet been scheduled.
In his letters to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., Peterson said that absent an assurance from leadership, he will not participate in writing another five-year farm bill once the process begins. According to the minority staff of the House Agriculture Committee, Peterson’s letters follow refusals by Republican leadership to consider the House Agriculture Committee’s five-year farm bill during the last Congress and “a last-minute, backroom nine-month farm bill extension that ignored the will of the agriculture committees.”
“I heard leadership’s excuses: that the votes were not there to pass the bill,” Peterson states in the letters sent Thursday. “That is patently false. The leadership team never conducted a whip count, never asking members whether they would vote for or against the committee package.”
Peterson said it would be a “fool’s errand” for the House Agriculture Committee to craft another five-year farm bill “if the Republican leadership refuses to give any assurances that our bipartisan work will be considered.”
The letter sent to Boehner is available here and the letter to Cantor is here. Peterson states in the letter that once all Democrat committee members are appointed a similar letter will be sent to GOP leadership.
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