Despite Long Odds, Braley Files Discharge Petition to Force Vote on Farm Bill Print
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Bowman   
Tuesday, 18 September 2012 13:11
Sept. 13, 2012 – 5:18 p.m.

Iowa Democrat Bruce Braley on Thursday filed a discharge petition seeking to require the House to vote on the stalled farm bill that was approved in July by the Agriculture Committee.

Braley had been unable to file the petition earlier because the bill (HR 6083) had not been formally reported to the House.

“Today, we took a tremendous step forward toward forcing a vote on the farm bill,” Braley said in a statement. “After 65 days of dithering and distraction, Speaker [John A.] Boehner has finally allowed the bill to be released from committee.”

The House would be required to vote on the bill if at least 218 members sign the petition.

The petition is a long-shot at best. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, few discharge petitions ever get 218 signatures, “and for those that do, the process usually takes some months.”

Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Boehner, R-Ohio, said he did not think the Speaker had talked to any lawmakers about the petition.

Meanwhile, two House members, Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Kristi Noem, R-S.D., are gathering signatures on a letter requesting a meeting with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., on the farm bill.

“Whether members support or oppose the farm bill, we believe the House should be allowed to vote so that we can be held accountable to those we represent,” the letter says.

As of Thursday afternoon, 25 members had signed the Welch-Noem letter.

Noem, who is a freshman member of Boehner’s leadership team, and Welch wrote a similar letter to House leaders in July, urging them to bring the bill to the floor before the August recess. That letter was signed by 38 Democrats and 41 Republicans, including a close ally of Boehner’s, Republican Tom Latham of Iowa, and many other farm-district Republicans.

Republican leaders have been insisting the bill does not have enough votes to pass.

“Everything that is being attempted right now is an attempt to force the House leadership to bring the bill to the House floor,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union. “People are trying virtually everything they can think of to make that happen.”

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