House Passes Spending Cuts in Agriculture Bill by Narrow Margin

The House passed H.R. 2112 by a vote of 217-203. The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 contains a number of controversial spending cuts and regulatory provisions, sparking many amendments, most of which were not added in the final bill. The total amount of spending, $17.113 billion, is 15.1% less than what was spent in FY2011. This spending cut may be seen as a victory for fiscal hawks, but most of the 19 Republicans voting against it did so as a protest against the subsidy programs remaining in the bill. It is evident from the previous vote to recommit that the 19 Republicans voted against the final bill only after counting heads to make sure there were sufficient votes for passage. Rep. Jones (NC-3) was the lone Republican voting for the recommit and against the final version, indicating that he had reservations about the amount of spending cuts.

Notable in the cuts and policy changes are: a reduction in FDA salaries and expenses by 12%; cutting the funding for the Food For Peace program by 31%; barring any use of Food For Peace funds for North Korea; prohibits the use of federal funds for RU-486, the morning-after pill; adds language which restricts the ability of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to manipulate the futures market.

It is a certainty that the Senate version and the ensuing compromise version will not reach the spending cuts arrived at in the House version, but it shows that House Republicans are willing to enact large spending cuts.

The eighteen Republicans voting against the bill on principle (their votes will not be counted against them in the Scorecard) were: Amash (MI-3), Bachmann (MN-6), Barton (TX-6), Broun (GA-10), Burgess (TX-26), Campbell (CA-48), Duncan (TN-2), Fincher (TN-8), Flake (AZ-6), Franks (AZ-2), Griffith (VA-9), King (IA-5), McClintock (CA-4), Miller (FL-1), Noem (SD-at large), Paul (TX-14), Rohrabacher (CA-46), and Schweikert (AZ-5).

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