With Flake going, Farm Bill conservatives lose ally
A coalition of taxpayer and conservative political advocacy groups pressing for major changes in the farm bill will lose its most important partner after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) retires at the end of 2018. Just three weeks ago, Flake told a room of more than a dozen organizations that he would lead the fight against “special interest handouts and wasteful spending” in the next farm bill — an issue he began working on after being elected to the House in 2000. The centerpiece of his effort this cycle is the AFFIRM Act, which would cap crop insurance subsidies at $40,000 per person per year; it would eliminate all subsidies for those with a gross income of more than $250,000.
“We are very sorry to see him leave the Senate, but it won’t happen for another year. That will give us the opportunity to have his leadership on the 2018 farm bill,” said Joshua Sewell, senior policy analyst at Taxpayers for Common Sense. He also praised Flake for being a “clear and consistent conservative” on agricultural policy. “Many conservatives suffer from ‘Potomac Fever’ when it comes to the farm bill.”
Flake’s departure may mean he can make the 2018 farm bill a last hurrah by pushing more aggressively for reforms, said Caroline Kitchens, federal affairs manager and policy analyst at R Street Institute. But in the long term, conservatives are not sure who in the Senate would take up their farm bill agenda, she added.