U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) recently objected to a budget bill provision in order to prevent extra subsidies from going to private companies associated with the federal crop insurance program.
Flake argued in favor of preserving savings of approximately $3 billion which Congress had previously approved in the form of cuts to subsidies, but was defeated by a 72-22 vote. Flake contended that Congress had not even waited to pass the bill before agreeing to go back on the spending cuts it included.
“What we're doing here is targeting a specific provision that was airdropped into the highway bill,” Flake said. “This isn't an attack on the highway bill. It's an attack on a provision which increases crop subsidies $3 billion over what is in the budget deal. Now, we are often accused in this body of reversing cuts that we make before the ink is dry. In this case, we actually made a deal to reverse the cuts before the ink was even put to paper.”
The crop insurance subsidy savings was intended to balance spending increases in a late October budget deal, but stakeholders sought to invalidate the action, prompting Flake’s address.
“If we're ever going to get serious about controlling our deficit … then we've actually got to stick to some of the cuts that we've made,” Flake said. “That's what this point of order is all about … the $3 billion subsidy … was added back in after we had agreed in a bipartisan way to these cuts. We cannot continue to go back on the cuts that we've made. And in this case, we didn't even wait a month or two months. The agreement was made on this floor before the bill was even passed. We've got to get away from that kind of practice.”
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