WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement after voting yesterday against final passage of the Senate Farm Bill:
“I greatly appreciate the hard work that Senators Cochran and Stabenow put into the Senate farm bill. Through Sen. Cochran’s leadership, this year’s bill is better for many farmers in Alabama than last year’s bill, especially considering improvements to programs used by peanut and cotton farmers. In addition, unlike last year’s bill, this year’s Senate bill retains the USDA inspection program for catfish, which is a major priority for Alabama’s catfish industry. However, I find it deeply concerning that the Senate farm bill lacks reforms to the food stamp program—food stamps now make up 80 percent of the spending in the farm bill—while instead making substantial cuts to the provisions for our farmers, which make up less than 20 percent of the bill.
Many of us in the Senate wanted to find ways to improve the bill. Yet, once again, Majority Leader Reid preempted real legislative debate by filing cloture after just 10 roll call votes on amendments. More than 200 amendments were left unheard. This is not acceptable in the Senate—the world’s greatest deliberative body. Important bills like this simply must be subject to the traditional amendment process. While I was pleased that one of my amendments was accepted by the Senate—Amendment No. 945, which will help Alabama farmers access federal irrigation programs—several others I filed or supported, including amendments to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in the food stamp program and to prevent regulatory overreach, were denied a vote. I am hopeful that, as a result of a conference with the House of Representatives, the final farm bill will be something I can eventually support. But much work remains left to do.”