June 17, 2013
The Honorable Pete Sessions
Chairman, Committee on Rules
United States House of Representatives
H-312 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Sessions,
On behalf of the R Street Institute, I write today to urge your support of a full and robust amendment process for H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act. Better known as the “Farm Bill,” this flawed and expensive legislation has attracted a wide array of amendments from both parties to improve it. As a free-market think tank that seeks lower costs for taxpayers, more accountability, and fewer incentives to damage the environment, R Street supports an open rule that would allow the House to comprehensively vet potential amendments.
Specifically, we would like to see amendments made in order that address five crop insurance reforms we laid out in a letter joined by 16 conservative organizations last month. Those policies were means testing, payment limits, conservation compliance, transparency, and reducing payments made to the crop insurance industry. Enacting these common sense structural reforms to the program could save taxpayers billions of dollars, make the program more stable and accountable, and reduce incentives to engage in environmentally destructive farming behavior. Bipartisan amendments to achieve each of these goals already have been introduced, indicating a strong desire by members on both sides of the aisle to make changes to the crop insurance title of the bill.
An open and vigorous House amendment process is particularly important given that the Senate, in passing its version of the bill, considered very few substantive amendments after negotiations devolved into competing objections on unrelated issues. As a result, the only way that years-long bipartisan efforts to reform crop insurance will see the light of day is if the House follows through on its commitments to regular order and open debate.
As your committee begins deliberations for the rule on H.R. 1947, we strongly urge you to make in-order amendments dealing with the wide variety of problems in crop insurance and other subsidy programs.
Senior Fellow and Outreach Director
R Street Institute