By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 – As the marathon House debate continued on the Republican proposal to cut $61 billion in federal spending this year, House members voted solidly Friday afternoon to block funding for the administration's new healthcare reform law. All four “Obamacare” defunding amendments, proposed by Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., and Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., passed with wide margins.

Rep. Ron Kind's amendment to defund the Obama administration's agreement to pay $150 million per year to the Brazil Cotton Institute was rejected in a 183 to 246 vote. Even more overwhelmingly, the House rejected Kind's amendment to block spending on two Defense Department weapons system in a 123 to 306 vote.

Amendment 104 offered by Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, would have cut an additional $22 billion on top of the current proposal for $61 billion in cuts by imposing an 11% cut for the legislative branch, with a 5.5% cut for all other domestic spending. The House rejected this amendment in a 147 to 281 vote although it would have moved the total budget cut closer to the $100 billion goal insisted on by Tea Party members.

Welcoming the House vote to allow the $150 million payment to the Brazil Cotton Institute to continue, National Cotton Council (NCC) Chair Charles Parker said “U.S. cotton industry leaders are encouraged that the Framework Agreement has been sustained and are committed to work with all parties to resolve the dispute.” An NCC statement explained that the payment “provides an opportunity to conduct consultations and bring about an orderly adjustment of U.S. programs to comply with WTO obligations while avoiding costly and disruptive trade actions that damage the economic interests of both countries.” It noted the payment is part of an agreement which “ends with the development of the 2012 farm bill that would contain mutually agreed-upon outcomes on upland cotton provisions, ultimately bringing a dispute settlement.”

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