(Senate - May 23, 2013)

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[Pages S3816-S3826]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.
  Mr. REID. I have spoken to the managers of the bill, and they have 
one vote scheduled right now. They expect--they hope--they can have a 
couple more today, maybe even three today, but they are not sure. It 
will have to be done by consent. They are confident they can get that 
done. We will have to wait and see.
  When this vote is over, we should have in the near future an idea of 
what we are going to finish today. If we are here and we have a few 
more votes, it should not be past 5:00. We will see. We are going to 
finish today sometime--hopefully soon.
  A decision is being made as to what we are going to do when we get 
back. The managers of this bill are trying to come up with a finite 
list of amendments. They hope to be able to do that today.
  Then we will make a decision on whether we are going to move to 
immigration when we get back or wait a week. I have spoken to the Gang 
of 8 today, and they are going to give me some indication of what they 
want to do. I have also spoken to the chairman of the committee, and 
that decision should be made very soon. We will have a vote on the 
Monday we get back.

                           Amendment No. 923

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, there will be 2 
minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to 
amendment No. 923, offered by the Senator from California, Mrs. 
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Madam President, this amendment is offered on behalf 
of Senator McCain and myself.
  Ladies and gentlemen, tobacco is not just another crop. It is the 
largest preventable cause of cancer deaths in this country. Exactly 
443,000 people die every year. It costs Medicaid an additional $22 
  In 2004 a special assessment of $9.6 billion was authorized to buy 
out tobacco farms in the United States. That has 1 more year to run.
  We subsidize tobacco crop insurance. We should not. This country 
should become tobacco-free. It will save lives.
  I urge you to support this amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Carolina.
  Mr. BURR. I speak in opposition to the amendment.
  Let me say to my dear friend from California, whom I really respect, 
the tobacco buyout was not paid by taxpayers, it was paid by the 
tobacco companies. It happened several years ago. The only program 
tobacco farmers participate in today is crop insurance, like every 
other agricultural product in America. Without that safety net, those 
farmers can't go to the bank and get capital to plant their crops.
  Although I think we can all agree that tobacco is not healthy for 
you, some Americans make the decision to do it because it is legal. 
Eliminate the American tobacco farmer and you will replace them with 
tobacco grown in Zimbabwe and Brazil--around the world. If we want to 
outlaw tobacco, let's have that vote, but don't walk away and believe 
that a vote eliminating crop insurance is going to change the health 
care of the American people as it relates to this product.
  I urge my colleagues to vote against this amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time has expired.
  Mrs. HAGAN. Madam President, I request 1 minute.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. I request 1 minute to respond to Senator Burr, if I 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection to the request, as 
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from North Carolina.
  Mrs. HAGAN. Madam President, I too rise to express strong opposition 
to the amendment. This amendment would prevent our tobacco growers from 
being eligible for Federal crop insurance. This amendment would do 
significant harm to the small tobacco farmers in North Carolina and in 
other parts of the country. There are 2,000 farmers in North Carolina 
who would be affected, and it would be devastating to them and their 
families. Without access to crop insurance, they wouldn't be able to 
borrow money from the banks to receive financing.
  It does nothing to alter the amount of tobacco used in our country. 
Demand will be filled by foreign imports, probably from Brazil and 
other countries. It would put our American farmers out of work.
  For all of these reasons, I urge my colleagues to vote no on this 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from California.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Madam President, we are not talking about eliminating 
crop insurance. There are plenty of crops that don't have crop 
insurance, but this crop does. We are talking about eliminating the 
Federal subsidy, which amounts to $30 million-plus a year for crop 
  With respect to my distinguished friend and colleague on the other 
side of the aisle, I misspoke once today. This is an assessment from 
the tobacco industry. I thought I straightened that out. But the 
assessment that paid for the buyout of $9.6 billion is what I am 
speaking of.
  But this is a Federal subsidy on crop insurance. You can still get 
crop insurance, but it won't be federally subsidized.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the amendment.
  Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from California (Mrs. Boxer), 
the Senator from New Jersey (Mr. Lautenberg) and the Senator from 
Michigan (Mr. Levin) are necessarily absent.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senator is necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Arizona (Mr. Flake).
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 44, nays 52, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 137 Leg.]


     Johnson (SD)
     Johnson (WI)
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)

[[Page S3817]]



                             NOT VOTING--4

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order requiring 60 votes 
for the adoption of this amendment, the amendment is rejected.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, through no one's fault but my own, I got 
here a couple of minutes late for the last amendment, the vote on the 
Feinstein amendment. I would have voted aye had I gotten here in time.
  The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
following first-degree amendments be in order to be called up: Hagan 
No. 1031, and Durbin-Coburn No. 953; that we have 5 minutes of debate 
on the Hagan amendment, that there be 10 minutes allotted to Senators 
Durbin and Coburn for their amendment, and I reserve 5 minutes I would 
control on their amendment; that we have a vote then at 3:15, and that 
when we vote in relation to the amendments we proceed to the votes in 
the order listed; that no second-degree amendments be in order to 
either amendment prior to the votes; that there will be 2 minutes 
equally divided between the votes; and then finally, upon disposition, 
Senator Merkley will be recognized.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. COCHRAN. Madam President, we have no objection.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The Senator from North Carolina is recognized.

                           Amendment No. 1031

  Mrs. HAGAN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to call up 
amendment No. 1031.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from North Carolina [Mrs. HAGAN] proposes an 
     amendment numbered 1031.

  Mrs. HAGAN. I ask unanimous consent the reading of the amendment be 
dispensed with.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The amendment is as follows:

 (Purpose: To authorize the use of the insurance fund to reduce fraud 
     and maintain program integrity in the crop insurance program)

       On page 1076, between lines 17 and 18, insert the 


       Section 516(b)(2) of the Federal Crop Insurance Act (7 
     U.S.C. 1516(b)(2)) is amended by adding at the end the 
       ``(C) Reviews, compliance, and program integrity.--For each 
     of the 2014 and subsequent reinsurance years, the Corporation 
     may use the insurance fund established under subsection (c), 
     but not to exceed $5,000,000 for each fiscal year, to pay the 
       ``(i) Costs to reimburse expenses incurred for the review 
     of policies, plans of insurance, and related materials and to 
     assist the Corporation in maintaining program integrity.
       ``(ii) In addition to other available funds, costs incurred 
     by the Risk Management Agency for compliance operations 
     associated with activities authorized under this title.''.

  Mrs. HAGAN. Madam President, I rise today to offer an amendment to 
make sure we are doing all we can to prevent fraud and abuse in the 
Federal Crop Insurance Program. The issue of fraud in this program hit 
home for me in March of this year when the Justice Department announced 
a $100 million crop insurance fraud case in eastern North Carolina, the 
largest ever of its kind. Forty-one defendants were found guilty and 
many are serving prison time for profiting from false claims for losses 
of soybeans, tobacco, wheat, and corn.
  Following this incident I regularly have farmers coming up to me, 
telling me they are nervous, nervous that the actions of a few bad 
actors will lead the Federal Government to cease providing crop 
insurance assistance. In these difficult budget times, these are valid 
concerns. For Federal assistance to continue, the integrity of these 
programs must be rock solid. Crop insurance fraud not only harms the 
integrity of Federal safety net programs and increases the cost to 
taxpayers, it also drives up the cost of the insurance program for our 
honest, law-abiding farmers.
  The amendment I am offering would provide additional tools to the 
Risk Management Agency to analyze and combat fraud, waste, and abuse. 
The Risk Management Agency can expand the sampling requirements to test 
for and address the concerns with these improper program payments. This 
is in accordance with the Federal Improper Payments Information Act and 
the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act, as recommended by 
the office of the inspector general. The Risk Management Agency can 
increase the number of reviews of the approved insurance providers 
conducted each year. Currently we are able to review only about one-
third of these providers due to our resource constraints. It also will 
provide additional support for data-mining activities to detect the 
fraud and abuse in the program and develop proactive underwriting and 
loss adjustment applications to minimize the scope for such activities 
to occur.
  The farm bill before us now includes extensive reforms to create a 
host of new safety net programs. As the complexity of these programs 
grows, the resources needed to oversee these programs are actually 
shrinking. This amendment will provide the resources necessary to 
proactively detect and combat fraud and abuse. Funding for this 
amendment will come out of the general savings contained in the 
underlying bill. The cost of this amendment is minimal and I believe 
this investment will generate substantial savings for taxpayers, 
expanding our efforts to tackle the fraud and abuse in the crop 
insurance program. Protecting the integrity of these programs is 
critical to ensuring the safety net programs are available for the vast 
majority of our farmers who are honest, and to avoid undermining public 
confidence in these programs.
  I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi.
  Mr. COCHRAN. Madam President, I support the amendment offered by the 
Senator from North Carolina. This amendment would provide additional 
support for data-mining activities to detect fraud. It would develop 
proactive underwriting and loss adjustment applications to minimize the 
scope for such activities to occur. It would help reduce improper 
payments through better controls and reviews of policies. All of these 
will result in saving taxpayer money and ensuring program integrity in 
the long run.
  I urge approval of the amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Warren). Who yields time?
  The Senator from Illinois.

                           Amendment No. 953

  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, how much time remains for the Durbin-
Coburn amendment?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Ten minutes.
  Mr. DURBIN. Please notify me when I have used 2 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Yes, the Chair will.
  Mr. DURBIN. The Durbin-Coburn amendment says this: We have the Crop 
Insurance Program in America. Farmers buy crop insurance because they 
could have a drought, flood, lose their crop, or the market price could 
fall down to nothing, so they buy insurance to cover the loss. However, 
it isn't really insurance as we understand insurance. It is not like 
fire or auto insurance because farmers don't pay enough in premiums to 
cover the actual losses paid out by crop insurance.
  In fact, the farmer's contribution to crop insurance is only 38 
percent of the actual premium cost. Who pays the rest? Hold up your 
hand, America. All the taxpayers in this country subsidize crop 
insurance--62 percent. What did it cost us last year? Over $7 billion, 
and then an additional $1 billion to administer the program.
  Here is what this amendment says: We stand behind crop insurance. We 
believe in crop insurance, but for that

[[Page S3818]]

tiny 1 percent of farmers across America making over $750,000 a year, 
their Federal subsidy will be cut from 62 percent, on average, to 47 
percent. They can afford it, and over the span of 10 years we will save 
over $1 billion. That is money we can better spend either to reduce our 
debt or on critical programs for this country.
  I want farmers to have crop insurance, but I want those who are doing 
so well in this system and getting hundreds of thousands of dollars of 
Federal subsidy to show a little bit of sacrifice on their part. Keep 
this program sound and keep it fair. The Durbin-Coburn amendment moves 
in that direction.
  I urge my colleagues to vote for this amendment.
  I yield the floor to my friend from Oklahoma.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. COBURN. Madam President, 4 percent of the farmers in this country 
receive 33 percent of the benefits from crop insurance. I don't think 
it could be said any better than Senator Durbin has said it. The point 
is, what we ought do is make sure there is a safety net, and crop 
insurance is the way to do that. But like every other program, we 
eventually are going to ask those who have more to participate more.
  I have the location and how much the top five farmers in this country 
actually get. The No. 1 farmer in the country gets $1.9 million worth 
of subsidies a year. All we are going to do is cut his subsidy to $1.6 
million. His income is far in excess of $750,000.
  The No. 2 farmer is from Washington State. We will cut his subsidy 
from $1.7 million to $1.4 million, and, of course, he made far more 
than that in the last year and in the previous years.
  No. 3, located in Minnesota, we are going to cut from $1.6 million to 
$1.4 million. We are still going to subsidize $1.4 million a year for 
this one individual who is going to make in excess of $2 million this 
  All we are asking is to appropriately limit the benefits that are 
coming from borrowed money against our children's future for the very 
wealthy in this country.
  I reserve the remainder of my time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Madam President, while I very much appreciate the 
amendment of Senator Durbin and Senator Coburn, I urge my colleagues to 
oppose this amendment.
  Crop insurance is insurance, and the farmer gets a bill not a check. 
They get a bill. The question is whether we are going to provide a 
discount so it is an affordable policy.
  We ended subsidies through direct payments. We want them to move to a 
voluntary system of crop insurance. The bill they get has to be a bill 
they can afford to be able to provide the coverage, and then there is 
no payout unless they have a loss, such as a flood, drought, or 
whatever has happened. It is insurance.
  There are several reasons this is not the same vote the Senate took 
last year on this amendment. With the historic agreement to attach 
conservation compliance to crop insurance--potentially reducing the 
acres and numbers of producers covered by crop insurance--will only 
reduce the environmental benefits and could lead to draining wetlands 
and plowing highly erodable land.
  Let me say this another way: Of course most of the crop insurance 
goes to the largest farmers because they have the most land to insure. 
Just by definition, the larger the insurance policy, the more they are 
trying to cover. The question is--and the reason conservationists and 
environmentalists have come together--is because they want the large 
tracts to become conservation compliant.
  There is even more environmental impact on the large tracts than on 
the small tracts, which is why we saw this historic agreement between 
30-some different farm, environmental, and conservation groups to say: 
We will support crop insurance, but you have to do conservation 
compliance on all of the land.
  Limiting crop insurance support to producers will cause producers 
with large pieces of land to leave the insurance system, losing the 
conservation benefits and possibly increasing the costs, again, to 
smaller providers. If everybody is not in, then the cost goes up for 
who is in.
  In fact, we know if we take the largest purchasers out, it is 
estimated we could see premiums go up nearly 40 percent for those who 
are currently in the system, and we are more likely to go back to ad 
hoc disaster assistance.
  In the drought of 2012, one of the worst on record for U.S. farmers, 
there were no calls for our crops to receive ad hoc disaster 
assistance. The corn, wheat, soybean growers, and others across the 
country were able to survive. Why? Because of crop insurance, and it 
  I urge colleagues to take a second look at this. We are talking about 
preserving a historic agreement that came together around conservation 
compliance. We want to make sure all of the land that is in crop 
insurance is covered, and we are protecting our soil and water.
  I ask for a ``no'' vote on the amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. COBURN. The No. 1 person who cares about the environmental 
quality of their land is the farmer. The bigger the farmer, the more 
they care.
  The No. 4 farmer, as far as crop insurance in the country, farms 
105,000 acres. The average farmer in Oklahoma has 160 acres. They will 
make an economic decision, and if a 15-percent bump in their premium 
will cause them to go out, they will go out. But they will not go out 
because it is too much of a sweetheart deal. We are still going to pay 
almost half of their crop insurance--50 percent.
  Does anybody else have that kind of deal going? Nobody else has that 
kind of deal going.
  What we are saying is, let's save some money and ask those who are 
more well endowed with benefits and profits to pay a fairer share of 
what they should be paying based on the benefits they get.
  The one thing the chairwoman didn't say is these are the guys who 
collect the big bucks when there is one. They do pay a portion of it, 
but their payouts are hundreds of times higher than the average farmer.
  They will make an economic decision, and they are not going to walk 
away from this because it is still--even at 48 percent--too sweet of a 
deal for any of them to walk away. There is no study that says they 
will walk away.
  Wait and see. If they walk away, Senator Durbin and I will walk down 
and offer mea culpas on the Senate floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. I appreciate the confidence my friend from Oklahoma has 
about what business decisions will be made. Let's assume they don't 
walk away from crop insurance; they will be walking away from 
conservation compliance if they are not required to do that.
  If this agreement falls apart--and it is an agreement that was 
delicately put together with over 30 different farm organizations, as 
well as conservation and environmental folks, to work together to 
support crop insurance. But to require environmental compliance--they 
may or may not make decisions about crop insurance. I do know if they 
do leave, the folks in the program, which are small- and medium-sized 
programs--as a matter of economics, like any other kind of insurance--
will see their costs go up. We do know that.
  We also have this broader question that relates to the large farmers 
the Senators are talking about where the benefit to having 
comprehensive conservation compliance for our country is a benefit we 
want to make sure we keep intact. It would be undermined with the 
passage of this amendment.
  Mr. COBURN. Madam President, how much time remains?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Senators Durbin and Coburn have 5 minutes 
remaining, Senator Hagan has 1 minute remaining, and Senator Stabenow 
has 1 minute remaining.
  Mr. COBURN. Let me just make the point. The large farmers I know in 
Oklahoma really don't want the government telling them what kind of 
agreement they are going to have with their crop insurance and 
environmental things. We already have a ton of rules.
  What I do know is there is nobody in Oklahoma who cares more about 
the environment than our farmers. I disagree there is a disconnect if 
we limit

[[Page S3819]]

the crop insurance subsidy to the very large farmers in Oklahoma and 
that they are not going to do what is in the best interests of the 
environment since it is a benefit to their own economic well-being.
  We understand a deal was cut to get us to where we are on the bill, 
and we are not trying to disturb that. We don't want to disturb that, 
but we cannot continue to subsidize the very well heeled in this 
country to the same level that we try to protect those who are 
marginal. We just cannot do it.
  We could have made this a whole lot different. We could have lowered 
it even lower. We didn't do that. The average median family income in 
this country is less than $60,000. We are talking about almost 15 times 
more than the average family in this country makes, and saying: If you 
make more than that, maybe you could take a little trim off the subsidy 
of your crop insurance. That is not an unfair question.
  I yield to my colleague from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. I thank the Senator from Oklahoma.
  Let's get it straight: Every farmer buying crop insurance gets a 
subsidy. The question is, How big is the subsidy? Is it 62 percent of 
the actual premium cost--that is what they are all receiving now--or 
will it be 47 or 48 percent, which is what we are suggesting, for 1 
percent of the farmers, of the wealthiest farmers.
  How many farmers are we talking about? There are roughly 2 million 
farmers in America. The people we are talking about number 20,000. 
There are 20,000 farmers who would be affected by our amendment. One 
would think we are about to destroy agriculture in America. There are 2 
million farmers, and all of them get a subsidy.
  Senator Coburn and I are saying: Let's nix the subsidy for the 
wealthiest. What we hear is that is too much to ask--it is too much 
sacrifice. I don't think so.
  One example in Illinois--and I will not read the examples from other 
Midwestern States--a corn and soybean grower received $740,000 in 
premium subsidies to cover the crops he planted in my State in 18 
counties. There are 102 counties in Illinois. We would cut his subsidy 
from $740,000 to $639,000. Does anyone think he will notice? Does 
anyone think he will stop buying crop insurance on what he has planted 
in 18 counties? I don't think so.
  At a time when we are asking people in the Head Start Program to make 
a sacrifice across America, can we at least ask for a little bit of a 
sacrifice from the 20,000 of the wealthiest farmers out of 2 million? I 
don't think it is asking too much.
  Madam President, I ask that the amendment be called up for 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the amendment.
  The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

       The Senator from Illinois, [Mr. Durbin], for himself and 
     Mr. Coburn, proposes an amendment numbered 953.

  The amendment is as follows:

   (Purpose: To limit the amount of premium subsidy provided by the 
  Federal Crop Insurance Corporation on behalf of any person or legal 
  entity with an average adjusted gross income in excess of $750,000, 
  with a delayed application of the limitation until completion of a 
                study on the effects of the limitation)

       On page 1101, between lines 5 and 6, insert the following:

                   ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME.

       Section 508(e) of the Federal Crop Insurance Act (7 U.S.C. 
     1508(e)) (as amended by section 11030(b)) is amended by 
     adding at the end the following:
       ``(9) Limitation on premium subsidy based on average 
     adjusted gross income.--
       ``(A) Definition of average adjusted gross income.--In this 
     paragraph, the term `average adjusted gross income' has the 
     meaning given the term in section 1001D(a) of the Food 
     Security Act of 1985 (7 U.S.C. 1308-3a(a)).
       ``(B) Limitation.--Notwithstanding any other provision of 
     this subtitle and beginning with the 2014 reinsurance year, 
     in the case of any producer that is a person or legal entity 
     that has an average adjusted gross income in excess of 
     $750,000 based on the most recent data available from the 
     Farm Service Agency as of the beginning of the reinsurance 
     year, the total amount of premium subsidy provided with 
     respect to additional coverage under subsection (c), section 
     508B, or section 508C issued on behalf of the producer for a 
     reinsurance year shall be 15 percentage points less than the 
     premium subsidy provided in accordance with this subsection 
     that would otherwise be available for the applicable policy, 
     plan of insurance, and coverage level selected by the 
       ``(C) Application.--
       ``(i) Study.--Not later than 1 year after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Secretary, in consultation with 
     the Government Accountability Office, shall carry out a study 
     to determine the effects of the limitation described in 
     subparagraph (B) on--

       ``(I) the overall operations of the Federal crop insurance 
       ``(II) the number of producers participating in the Federal 
     crop insurance program;
       ``(III) the level of coverage purchased by participating 
       ``(IV) the amount of premiums paid by participating 
     producers and the Federal Government;
       ``(V) any potential liability for participating producers, 
     approved insurance providers, and the Federal Government;
       ``(VI) different crops or growing regions;
       ``(VII) program rating structures;
       ``(VIII) creation of schemes or devices to evade the impact 
     of the limitation; and
       ``(IX) administrative and operating expenses paid to 
     approved insurance providers and underwriting gains and loss 
     for the Federal government and approved insurance providers.

       ``(ii) Effectiveness.--The limitation described in 
     subparagraph (B) shall not take effect unless the Secretary 
     determines, through the study described in clause (i), that 
     the limitation would not--

       ``(I) significantly increase the premium amount paid by 
     producers with an average adjusted gross income of less than 
       ``(II) result in a decline in the crop insurance coverage 
     available to producers; and
       ``(III) increase the total cost of the Federal crop 
     insurance program.''.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Madam President, it was my understanding that the 
consent was for the Hagan amendment and then the Durbin-Coburn 
amendment. So if we could proceed in that order-- The PRESIDING 
OFFICER. That is the order in which they will be voted.
  Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I ask for the yeas and nays on our 
amendment and yield back our time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.

                           Amendment No. 1031

  Ms. STABENOW. Madam President, I ask for the yeas and nays on the 
Hagan amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
  There appears to be a sufficient second.
  The yeas and nays are so ordered.
  Ms. STABENOW. We yield back all time.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. If all time is yielded back, the question is 
on agreeing to amendment No. 1031.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from California (Mrs. Boxer), 
the Senator from New Jersey (Mr. Lautenberg), and the Senator from 
Nevada (Mr. Reid) are necessarily absent.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from Arizona (Mr. Flake), the Senator from Nevada (Mr. Heller), 
and the Senator from Oklahoma (Mr. Inhofe).
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 94, nays 0, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 138 Leg.]


     Johnson (SD)
     Johnson (WI)
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)

[[Page S3820]]

                             NOT VOTING--6

  The amendment (No. 1031) was agreed to.

                           Amendment No. 953

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, there will be 2 
minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to 
amendment No. 953, offered by the Senator from Illinois, Mr. Durbin.
  Who yields time?
  The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, I am cosponsoring this amendment that 
says the wealthiest 20,000 farmers in America will pay slightly more 
for their crop insurance so the program will be a sound program for all 
  I urge my colleagues, in the name of deficit reduction and making 
this a good program, to vote yes on the Durbin-Coburn amendment.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Madam President, I would urge a ``no'' vote for a 
number of reasons, but let me simply say the problem with increasing 
crop insurance premiums by about 40 percent, which is what this does, 
is we are going to reduce participation in crop insurance, reduce 
coverage, and drive up premiums. Most important for me, we have a 
historic agreement to tie crop insurance to conservation compliance, 
and this would undermine that effort.
  I would urge a ``no'' vote.
  Before proceeding, I wish to thank everyone for their good work up to 
this point and announce there will be no further votes. The next vote 
will be at 5:30 p.m. on the Monday we return, and we will proceed and 
complete the bill.
  I thank the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to amendment No. 
  The yeas and nays have been ordered.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from California (Mrs. Boxer), 
the Senator from New Jersey (Mr. Lautenberg), and the Senator from West 
Virginia (Mr. Rockefeller) are necessarily absent.
  Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the 
Senator from Tennessee (Mr. Alexander), the Senator from Arizona (Mr. 
Flake), the Senator from Nevada (Mr. Heller), the Senator from Oklahoma 
(Mr. Inhofe), and the Senator from Louisiana (Mr. Vitter).
  Further, if present and voting, the Senator from Tennessee (Mr. 
Alexander) would have voted ``nay.''
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Coons).  Are there any other Senators in 
the Chamber desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 59, nays 33, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 139 Leg.]


     Johnson (SD)
     Johnson (WI)
     Udall (CO)
     Udall (NM)



                             NOT VOTING--8

  The amendment (No. 953) was agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.

                           Amendment No. 978

  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the pending 
amendment be set aside and that my amendment No. 978 be called up.
  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I object to the request.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I regret that we have heard an objection 
to pulling up this amendment. Many may not understand that to pull up 
an amendment and to have it considered in the Senate takes unanimous 
consent. All 100 have to agree.
  My colleague has objected, making it impossible to consider an 
amendment that should be debated here on the floor of the Senate 
because this amendment is about good policy and good process.
  Not so long ago, in the continuing resolution, a provision was 
slipped in by the House of Representatives. Because this was a must-
pass bill under tight time constraints, it also slipped through the 
Senate with no debate. And what did this legislation do, the Monsanto 
protection act? This legislation does something that I think most would 
find astounding. It allows the unrestricted sale and planting of new 
variants of genetically modified seeds that a court has ruled have not 
been properly examined for their effect on other farmers, the 
environment, and human health.
  Obviously, this raises a lot of concerns about the impact on farmers 
and the impact on human health, but there is even more. The fact that 
the act instructs the seed producers to ignore a ruling of the court is 
equally troubling. It raises profound questions about the 
constitutional separation of powers and the ability of our courts to 
hold agencies accountable to the law and their responsibilities.
  I can tell my colleagues that this process and this policy has 
provoked outrage across the country. When I held townhalls in Oregon 
after this happened, at every townhall it was raised by farmers 
concerned that this would endanger the crops they were growing and 
hoped to export overseas. I have received over 2,200 letters on this 
  I am very hopeful that when we come back next week, we can have a 
full debate on this amendment, that it won't be objected to, and that 
certainly there will be no opportunity of any kind for this policy to 
be extended because it hurts a process of holding our departments 
accountable for enforcing the law, and it provides a policy of 
overriding the court order designed to protect other farmers, to 
protect the environment, and to protect human health, and that is 
absolutely unacceptable.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Missouri.
  Mr. BLUNT. Mr. President, I would like to respond to my friend Mr. 
  This act, which I would think would more properly be called the 
farmer assurance act, was passed by both the House and the Senate and 
signed into law by President Obama in March of 2013, March of this 
  Many have claimed it was never publicly debated and it was slipped 
into the bill by the House of Representatives, as my good friend said 
on the floor a minute ago, and passed the Senate without debate. Now, 
this was a big bill, I will admit that, and there was a lot of debate.
  While that would certainly be, I am sure, what Mr. Merkley believes 
happened, I don't think the facts would bear that out. In fact, this 
language originated, as he said, and was passed by the House after it 
was debated in committee, and it was posted for several months. This 
was not mystery language.
  In fact, on June 6, 2012, the House publicly posted their resolution 
that included this in the Agriculture appropriations bill. It was 
available on the House Web site from that point on. Section 733 of the 
House bill is identical to the farmer assurance language included in 
the final fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill that was passed by the 
  On June 19, 2012, the House Agriculture appropriations bill was 
passed out of committee. That bill included this exact language. That 
was June 19, 2012.
  The continuing resolution, actually, on the AG/FDA--the Agriculture, 
Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration--bill included a coming 
together of these two bills.

[[Page S3821]]

  The CR--the continuing resolution--included items in the Senate bill 
that dealt principally with agricultural research that the House didn't 
have, and there were provisions in the House version like this one that 
the Senate accepted.
  The language was publicly available and posted as part of the agreed-
to appropriations bill for 9 days before the vote.
  A week before the vote, Senator Tester filed an amendment which is 
exactly like the amendment we just heard about today because it would 
have struck this provision. On that same day, Senator Tester spoke at 
length on the floor about his amendment. This was a week before the 
continuing resolution was passed.
  I don't mind having a debate about the provisions. I do mind the idea 
that somehow nobody knew about this. Now, I can't watch the debate for 
every Member of the Senate and say: Here is what you should have been 
paying attention to that one of our colleagues said, but it was fairly 
substantial and took some time, and it was a week before we voted.
  By the way, nobody in the Senate proposed this provision. Nobody put 
it in the House bill, as some have contended. But I do think this 
provision, as it turns out, this policy, protects farm families. That 
is why it was supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the 
American Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the American Soybean 
Association, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the 
Congressional Hunger Center, the National Corn Growers Association, and 
  Many have incorrectly claimed that this language gives priority to 
the needs of a small number of businesses over the rights and needs of 
the American consumers. I don't think that is true either. This 
provision doesn't protect any seed company--Monsanto or Pioneer Seed--
or even the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It would help the family 
who planted a crop that was legal to plant.
  My mom and dad were dairy farmers. The one thing I do know about the 
farming cycle is that once you have made a decision to plant a crop, it 
is usually too late to plant another one, and there are times when it 
is absolutely too late to plant another crop. So what does your family 
do that year when the crop the government told you you could plant, 
some Federal judge decides you can't plant it, only to have maybe 
another--in the few cases where this has happened--other Federal judges 
later say that the first Federal judge was wrong and that those crops 
were legal to be planted and legal to be harvested.

  Both challenges, by the way, were about what environmental impact 
this might have if something happened from one property to another. 
There was never a question in those two cases about the safety of the 
  This provision allows the Secretary of Agriculture to create a way 
for those farm families to sell that crop, but it doesn't require the 
Secretary do that.
  Remember, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has already said: This 
is a crop that we have deregulated. It has heavily regulated these 
kinds of crops until the Secretary of Agriculture says it is not, and 
when the Secretary of Agriculture says it is not, then anybody who 
wants to can plant these crops. This gives the farmers and their 
families the assurance that a legally planted crop is likely to be able 
to be harvested.
  In addition, the authority granted to the USDA in this language was 
only temporary. It was in the House bill, and it lasts until September 
30 of this year. The Secretary of Agriculture said he already had the 
authority. It didn't seem to me that the return for ag research and 
other things we had in our bill--that repeating the authority the 
Secretary of Agriculture said he had and had used was a bad thing.
  It basically tells the Secretary of Agriculture: If you agree with 
the court, by the way, and don't think you did your job and you don't 
intend to appeal the case, you don't have to do anything that allows a 
crop to be harvested. But if you still think you were right and you are 
going to appeal that case, you have the authority, if you want to use 
it, to figure out how to let that crop be harvested for that year and 
that time.
  USDA can determine at any time that a biocrop should not be approved, 
and USDA can pull its approval on a crop that it has approved. FDA also 
has to approve the food value of these things before they can go into 
  This language doesn't require USDA to approve biotech crops. It 
doesn't prevent individuals from suing the government over a biotech 
crop approval. Ultimately, this language simply codifies the authority 
the Secretary believes he had.
  As recently as May 9 of this year, Secretary Vilsack testified before 
the Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee and said this language 
``doesn't necessarily do anything I can't already do. We're going to 
make these decisions based on the science and based on the law, which 
is the way they ought to be made.''
  Unfortunately, if you took a quick search of the Internet, you 
wouldn't find out these facts. But we have the advantage that we can 
search actually what the law said, not what somebody else said it might 
have said.
  These provisions protect farm families and their livelihoods, and 
that is why they are supported by some groups I have already mentioned 
and some I haven't: the American Farm Bureau Federation, National 
Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Soybean Association, National 
Association of Wheat Growers, the Congressional Hunger Center, National 
Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, American Sugarbeet 
Growers Association, the Agriculture Retailers Association, the 
Biotechnology Industry Organization, the American Seed Trade 
Association, and many other groups.
  Facts are stubborn, and the law here is easy to find and read, and it 
doesn't say anything about protecting anybody because, frankly, you 
can't sue these companies anyway. They sold you a legal product. The 
only people protected here are the people who have put the seeds in the 
ground. A farmer can't put those seeds in the ground in August or 
September and expect to harvest a crop that year.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I would like to take a few moments to 
thank colleagues for their work this week, to thank my partner Senator 
Cochran and both of our staffs, who have been working very hard to 
complete the process of this very important jobs bill called the farm 
  Let me take a moment to remind everyone that we are talking about 16 
million jobs in America that come because of agriculture, because of 
what we do in the food industry altogether. It is incredibly important 
we complete this work. I am very confident when we come back into 
session in another week that we will complete our process.
  I thank our majority leader and the Republican leader for their 
support in our moving through this process, and certainly our majority 
leader, Senator Reid, who has been incredibly supportive in working 
with us and giving us the time to come directly from committee to the 
floor of the Senate and to work with colleagues through amendments on 
both sides of the aisle to get this done. We are doing this the way we 
have always done it, which is in a bipartisan fashion, working through 
both Democratic and Republican amendments. At the end we will have 
produced what I believe is the most reform-minded farm bill in decades.
  Let me also remind my colleagues we have before us a bill that is 
different than anything I can think of actually in terms of deficit 
reduction. We have a bill that has over $24 billion in spending cuts 
put forward by our committee and supported by the communities that are 
affected--$24 billion in deficit reduction, which is much more than we 
would be required to do if we went with the across-the-board cuts that 
have been so debated with the sequester. The Agriculture Department and 
the farm bill are responsible for $6 billion in deficit reduction 
through the sequester. We have added four times to that amount in 
deficit reduction, but we are doing it in a smart, focused way, making 
tough decisions, setting priorities, eliminating subsidies that don't 
make sense anymore, and strengthening risk management, market-oriented 
  We have debated, and will debate more, something called crop 
insurance, which I will remind my colleagues does

[[Page S3822]]

not allow for someone getting a check. They get a bill. They pay for 
crop insurance. We do it in a partnership between the Federal 
Government and farmers to help them have affordable risk management. 
That is what we strengthen in this bill. We have been told by farmers 
all across the country that the most important risk management tool for 
them is insurance--crop insurance that is affordable.
  We have also in this legislation done something that is historic, 
which is as we have moved from subsidies to insurance, we are tying 
conservation compliance to the purchase of insurance. This is a very 
important policy, and we have many groups--over 30 groups--that have 
come together, and I want to commend all the commodity groups and the 
Farm Bureau and the Farmers Union and all those that came together, 
along with environmentalists and conservation organizations, to put a 
real priority on both a strong risk management system called crop 
insurance and a strong conservation policy called conservation 
compliance. This is a very important part of our bill as we look to 
  Frankly, we have looked at savings in every single part of this bill. 
We have 12 different bills all put together called titles in this thing 
we call a farm bill, and we have looked at savings in each area of the 
bill. We have, for instance, taken a hard look at our conservation 
programs and decided that instead of 23 different kinds of programs, we 
actually could consolidate and streamline down to 13. We put them in 
four different buckets of activities, with a lot of flexibility, 
working with community groups and grassroots groups on conservation, 
and saw that we could save money, which we have done.
  We listened to mayors and rural communities around Michigan and 
around the country--those who represent townships and counties--who 
said make sure you continue to have a strong rural economic development 
presence. Because once you get outside the cities in Michigan or around 
the country every community is partnering with rural development for 
business loans, water and sewer projects, transportation, firetrucks, 
police cars, housing, and all those efforts working through rural 
development. But we heard from our local officials that it was 
complicated. We currently, in law, have 11 different definitions of 
``rural.'' That made no sense. They said: Could you please give us one? 
We looked through all the different programs and streamlined it and now 
we have one definition, so it is easier to work with, less paperwork, 
and it makes much more sense.
  We have continued to strengthen the part of our agricultural economy 
called ``specialty crops.'' This is near and dear to me in Michigan--
fresh fruits and vegetables and other areas that are very important to 
many States, including mine. The organic community is a fast-growing 
part of agriculture, and so we strengthen that as well.
  We have looked from Mississippi to Michigan, California to Delaware, 
and everything in between, to make sure this is a bill that works for 
all parts of agriculture, and I am pleased to say we have been able to 
do that.
  We have also made sure the energy title is strong, both in supporting 
farmers and ranchers who want to be focused on energy efficiency on the 
farm or the ranch, and also in expanding efforts beyond our traditional 
biofuel efforts to something that is near and dear to my heart which is 
called bio-based manufacturing.
  We have very exciting opportunities in America. I know our Presiding 
Officer is as passionate about manufacturing as I am, and we now have 
the opportunity, working with our agricultural groups, to create ways 
to replace petroleum in plastics and other types of materials that we 
have today--synthetic fibers and so on--with agricultural by-products.
  If you buy many of our great American automobiles today, you might 
find you are sitting on foam that is actually made from soybean oil 
instead of petroleum oil. So you might be sitting on soybeans in the 
seats. Many parts of the interior of the automobiles that folks are now 
buying actually have some kind of agricultural by-product, whether it 
is wheat chaff or corn husks or soybean oil. So we know we can use 
these new opportunities to not only create markets but create 
situations that are much better for our environment and that create 
jobs. This is a new and exciting part of what we are doing to expand 
opportunities through the energy title as well.

  We also are very pleased and proud of the efforts around nutrition 
for folks in this country who, through no fault of their own, have 
found themselves hit hard by the economy. We want to make sure they 
continue to have the support they need around food assistance. That is 
absolutely critical, and I am pleased we have stood together in 
opposing very damaging amendments to the Supplemental Nutrition 
Assistance Program. Because just as crop insurance is important for our 
farmers when they have a disaster, food assistance is important for our 
families when they have a disaster. I think it reflects the best about 
us as Americans that we want to make sure we are providing that 
  We also are making sure we are doing more around farmers markets, and 
fresh fruits and vegetables in schools, making local food hubs a 
possibility so we have local farmers being able to come together to 
market their products as well.
  There are many pieces in this farm bill that all relate back to jobs, 
all relate back to reforms we have put in place, and relate to making 
sure we have a continuation of the safest, most affordable food supply 
in the world here in America. When you go home tonight, if you sit down 
to have supper, thank a farmer. We all understand this is the riskiest 
business in the world, and the job of the farm bill is to provide 
support and risk management tools for our growers when they need them, 
but also to be great stewards of taxpayer dollars and to do what is 
right for rural communities across America and for families that need 
some temporary help as well.
  There are many pieces, and I haven't even mentioned all of them. But 
I did want to remind people why we take the time on the floor to work 
through these issues and these amendments. We have more work to do, but 
we see the light at the end of the tunnel. We will be putting together 
a list for final votes on amendments when we come back into session, 
and we are looking forward to doing that and to completing this effort.
  Again, I would remind colleagues, we did this last year. The House 
did not do their job. They did in committee, on a bipartisan basis, but 
not on the floor. We did our job. Last time around I remember doing 73 
different votes on this particular bill. We wrapped in almost every 
single one of those amendments that were passed into the bill we 
presented to the Senate this time, and we are continuing to work 
together on other amendments as well. But it will be time, when we get 
back, to bring this to closure and to once again demonstrate the Senate 
can work together on a bipartisan basis to do the right thing for the 
families and the businesses and the farmers and the ranchers we 
represent. Sixteen million people in this country are counting on us to 
get our job done, and I am sure we will.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi.
  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I am pleased to join my distinguished 
colleague from Michigan in predicting that we are moving in the right 
direction. We have covered a lot of important issues during the debate 
over the last couple of days and taken up a good many amendments. We 
have had recorded votes and free and full discussion of a lot of issues 
that are affected by this legislation, and I must say it has been a 
remarkable performance in terms of the subjects that have been covered 
and amendments disposed of. True progress has been made in developing 
what I think can be a very important contribution toward a legal 
framework and support structure to help enable American farmers to 
compete in the international marketplace and to sustain the jobs that 
flow from these important activities throughout the United States.
  At a time when, in some places, jobs are hard to find, this is a job 
creator and it is a step toward strengthening our economy not just in 
rural America but throughout the country--in municipalities as well.
  I hope everybody recognizes what a strong leader our committee 

[[Page S3823]]

has become, as she has demonstrated in her performance as chairman of 
our committee. She has done an excellent job. I commend her and all of 
our colleagues on the committee for helping shape this product so it 
can be adopted by the Senate and signed into law by the President. I 
look forward to that day and to celebrating and helping salute those 
who have been responsible for this good work.
  I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the order for the 
quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, I rise today to join my colleagues on 
both sides of the aisle in condemning the Internal Revenue Service for 
intentionally singling out dozens of nonprofit organizations for no 
cause other than their political leanings. This is not an issue of 
Democrat versus Republican. Indeed, the actions of the IRS have brought 
rare bipartisan accord. There are lessons for us all in this scandal.
  One is that a government that is too big, too powerful, and too all-
encompassing is prone to overstep its bounds. It becomes unwieldy and 
inefficient. And sometimes, it tramples upon the rights of the people 
it is supposed to serve. We have seen those maxims in action over these 
last few weeks.
  We have an IRS that targeted groups of American citizens, threatening 
them with the force of law and imprisonment, for no other reason than 
they had certain political affiliations. We know now the IRS selected 
these groups by zeroing in on certain words and phrases.
  And what were these words and phrases that elicited such concern in 
the halls of the Internal Revenue Service? Words like ``patriot'' and 
``we the people.''
  It seems to me that we can draw only one of two conclusions from the 
actions of the IRS. Either some in the administration intentionally 
attempted to use the power of the Federal Government to target and 
cripple their political enemies, or they lack the competence to oversee 
a bureaucracy that has grown too big not to fail.
  One thing is for sure, though. The reputation of the IRS has been 
tarnished in ways that will take years to repair, and it is imperative 
that we restore the trust that has been lost between the American 
people and our government. That work begins with getting to the bottom 
of this scandal.
  We have many questions that need answers. Did these IRS officials act 
on their own, or did they have direction from their superiors? How high 
up does this scandal go? What did the White House know, and when did 
they know it?
  This scandal comes as Washington is preparing to hand over even more 
power and authority to the IRS. It will be the IRS that enforces the 
mandates of the new health care law. It will be the IRS that will have 
control over some of our most private, personal decisions.
  It is not too late to change course. But if we insist on placing the 
blame for the IRS's actions on a few low-level staffers without looking 
at the root cause of the abuse--corruption, or a government that, as 
the President's former Senior Advisor David Axelrod recently admitted, 
has become too vast to manage and oversee--then we will continue to 
witness scandals like this.
  Big government comes with bigger problems, bigger scandals, and 
bigger dangers for our liberties. The Tea Party and organizations like 
it have been arguing that position since they were founded. And while I 
know there are some in this chamber that will hate to hear this, it 
turns out the Tea Party's fears were justified.
  We need more than just an audit of what happened at the IRS. We have 
given the IRS every opportunity to deal with this issue internally. 
More than a year ago, Senator Hatch and I sent a letter to the IRS 
expressing our concerns about the targeting of conservative groups. We 
received a response assuring us that our concerns were unfounded.
  We now know that this response was false, and perhaps intentionally 
misleading. Tuesday, former-Commissioner Steven Miller appeared before 
the Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee on which I 
serve. During that hearing, Mr. Miller claimed that while he had 
dispatched a team to investigate our concerns a month before he 
responded to our letter, the response was sent without input from that 
team. He claims he did learn that targeting had occurred, but not until 
a week after misinforming the Senate that all was fine. He said he was 
``outraged.'' And yet he never corrected the record, choosing instead 
to allow his false response to stand. At the very least we have a 
situation where the IRS, knowing what had happened a week after they 
sent a response saying everything was fine, refused to correct the 
Record. I believed them at the time. Unfortunately, we were 
misinformed. And yesterday, Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS's tax-
exempt organizations division, declined to answer questions regarding 
this scandal, deciding instead to invoke her Fifth Amendment rights 
against self-incrimination.
  Despite all this, the IRS asks us to trust them when they tell us 
that this scandal was simply the result of a few misguided, low-level 
employees, and that no senior officials were involved. With all due 
respect, I am done taking the IRS's word for it. We need an indepth 
investigation, one that fully documents the what, when, and who of this 
scandal. Only when we get to the bottom of this incident can we begin 
to rebuild the bridge of trust between us as citizens and our Federal 
Government here in Washington, DC.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Colorado.
  Mr. BENNET. Mr. President, I come to the floor to talk a little bit 
about the farm bill which is before the Senate. Notwithstanding all the 
rhetoric we have had around the budget over the last 4 years or so 
around here, last year the Senate Agriculture Committee was the only 
committee, to my knowledge in either House, the Senate or the House, 
that passed a bipartisan deficit reduction plan. We did it together, 
Democrats and Republicans, working together on the committee with the 
various constituencies around the United States of America. That bill 
ultimately passed the Senate in a broad bipartisan vote right here on 
this floor.
  The House of Representatives was unable, for whatever reason, to 
enact a version of the farm bill over there, which was an incredible 
disservice to rural America. Farmers in my State, ranchers in my State, 
the State of Colorado, faced an unprecedented drought throughout this 
entire period. Throughout the summer of 2012, when I was traveling the 
State, no one was talking about the Presidential election--particularly 
in these rural areas, which was on the mind of everybody in Washington. 
What they wanted to know was why a farm bill had not been passed and 
for good reason--because the Senate had passed a bill that was 
supported by both Republicans and Democrats, by producers of all types 
across the country, and it was a good piece of legislation.
  Fast forward to this week, when the Senate Agriculture Committee has 
once again passed a bipartisan bill with meaningful deficit reduction. 
I thank Chairwoman Stabenow from Michigan and the ranking member 
Senator Thad Cochran for their leadership on this bill. This bill now 
has gone through two different ranking members on the Republican side 
and has been supported in a bipartisan way, as I said earlier. This 
farm bill, similar to the last version we passed, reflects the values 
and the process we want to see in other areas of our budget. We 
identify priorities in this bill. We streamline duplication in this 
bill. We break away from old, inefficient ways of doing business in 
this farm bill.
  We eliminate direct payments in one of the most significant reforms 
we have seen in a farm bill in a very long time. These payments are 
issued to farmers regardless of economic need or market signals. We do 
away with that abuse. This bill prioritizes what is working for 
producers and it strengthens crop insurance as a result, which is what 
my farmers have said is most important to them.
  I have spoken on this floor before about Colorado's battle against 
historic drought conditions. Some farmers

[[Page S3824]]

lost over half their corn yields in 2012 alone. It is hard to imagine, 
when you think about it, any business losing half of its production in 
1 year, but that is what happened to Colorado's corn growers. Crop 
insurance is what is keeping farmers and rural economies in business 
and that is why this should be a priority. That is why this bill should 
have been passed 2 years ago when it first came to the floor of the 
Senate. It is why we should pass it next month.
  Beyond crop insurance, another key highlight of this bill for those 
of us from Colorado is conservation. The title carries over the reforms 
from last year's bill, and this year's bill includes a provision to 
ensure that recipients of government-supported crop insurance comply 
with basic conservation requirements. This measure is the result of a 
historic agreement between the commodity groups and the conservation 
groups in this country. It is supported by a wide variety of 
stakeholders--from the Farm Bureau to the National Wildlife Federation.
  This revamped conservation title is huge for rural America and for my 
State. It is critical for farming and ranching families looking to keep 
their land in agriculture generation to generation. It is incredibly 
important for our hunters and sportsmen. It is important for anybody--
which is most of us--who cares about the long-term health of our soil, 
our air, and our water. These conservation measures help us improve the 
efficiency of production agriculture and improve the quality of the 
environment in farm country. We recognize that keeping these landscapes 
in their historical, undeveloped state is an economic driver for our 
entire State and for our entire region--for tourism, for wildlife 
  As I have traveled Colorado over the last several years, farmers and 
ranchers constantly were talking to me about the importance of 
conservation. They highlighted, in particular, conservation easements 
which provide Department of Agriculture assistance to help landowners 
who are interested in voluntarily conserving the farming and ranching 
heritage of their land.
  I wish to spend a few minutes sharing stories that Coloradans have 
shared with me. This is a photo--you don't have this as much in 
Delaware. I know you have other things. Here is a photo of a ranch in 
Colorado, the Music Meadows Ranch. It is outside of Westcliffe, CO, 
elevation 9,000 feet.
  I have a version of this picture in my office here in Washington. It 
is 4,000 acres. The rancher's name is Elin Ganschow. It is some of the 
finest grass-fed beef in the country, raised by Elin and her family at 
this ranch. Thanks to the Grassland Reserve Program, Elin's ranch now 
has a permanent conservation easement. It provides wildlife habitat for 
elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, black bear, and mountain lions, 
species prized by Colorado sportsmen. They contribute millions of 
dollars to our State's economy, and she has been able to continue 
having her family ranch.
  Thanks to an amendment adopted by the Agriculture Committee this 
year, we will see even more of these easements happen on high-priority 
landscapes such as the Music Meadows Ranch. I thank Chairwoman Stabenow 
and Senator Cochran for working so hard with me to get that amendment 
  Private lands conservation such as this, the type aided by the farm 
bill, is absolutely critical for so many reasons. It is poorly 
understood in the East, but it is an incredibly important tool for 
those of us in the West to keep our family farms and ranches family 
farms and ranches and provide the habitat needed for our sportsmen and 
for tourism.
  Here is another example of why this bill is so crucial for our 
sportsmen and outdoor recreation economy. This is a photo taken of a 
friend, John Gale, hunting pheasants in Yuma County, CO. The 
Conservation Reserve Program, CRP, provides important habitat for 
pheasants and other upland birds all across the country. The land 
surrounding this is all CRP land--everything you can see and far beyond 
that--and it has enabled this pheasant hunting to happen in our State.
  The CRP program protects habitats in addition to holding in place 
highly erodable soil--something we have a lot of history with in 
Colorado. For instance, the soil in Baca County, CO, has over 250,000 
acres enrolled in CRP. Baca County was absolutely devastated by the 
Dust Bowl of the 1930s, as chronicled in Tim Egan's ``The Worst Hard 
Time,'' and other books. Thanks to CRP, Baca County has weathered 
recent droughts much better than it otherwise would have.
  Healthy grasslands, open landscapes, and abundant wildlife are a 
fundamental part of what it is to be in the West. We need to preserve 
those grasslands, those open spaces, and those species, and that is 
what the conservation title of the farm bill does.
  I strongly support this new conservation title as reported out of the 
committee in a bipartisan vote. I know some are going to try to amend 
this bipartisan consensus.
  One of the great things about serving on the Agriculture Committee is 
there is so little partisanship. The differences we have are not 
Republican versus Democrat. We have some differences, but they tend to 
be regional and understandable. We have a way, a process, and the 
leadership to actually work through issues together. It would be nice 
if we did more of that around here.
  I am worried there will be some amendments that will come forward, 
among other things, in the name of deficit reduction, which, as I 
mentioned earlier, is already reflected by this committee's work, 
unlike every other committee in the Congress.
  As far as Lee amendment No. 1017 and No. 1018, I appreciate my 
neighbor's effort on deficit reduction. These programs repeal the 
important programs I talked about here on which our farmers and 
ranchers rely, and they keep our soil on the ground, not in our wind 
and air.
  Lee amendment No. 1017 repeals the CRP program I spoke about earlier. 
I have been on this floor many times to talk about cutting our deficit. 
I am glad we have been part of a process which has actually led to 
deficit reduction. We need to put the entire budget under a microscope, 
including agriculture, to cut waste and eliminate redundancies.
  Let me say again, including agriculture, the bill we have on this 
floor makes those cuts--$24 billion in all. Some $6 billion of these 
cuts come from conservation. Not all of those cuts are cuts I like, but 
I agreed to them in the package we were moving forward. We made 
difficult compromises at the committee level, and now we have a more 
efficient conservation title as a result that won support from both 
sides of the aisle. Over 650 conservation groups support the 
conservation title before us, and I urge my colleagues to support it 
and oppose amendments which would weaken the title and undermine the 
good work of Republicans and Democrats on the committee.
  With that, I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from South Dakota.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss some of the 
amendments I offered to the 2013 farm bill. First of all, let me start 
by thanking the chairwoman and the ranking member for their leadership 
and listening to the voices of the members of the Agriculture Committee 
when it comes to reauthorizing the farm bill which is set to expire at 
the end of September. We have not been able to agree on all aspects of 
the farm bill, but our chairwoman and ranking member should, however, 
be recognized for their tireless work in getting a farm bill done this 
  One way or another, we need to move this process forward. We came 
close when the Senate passed a farm bill, but we were unable to get the 
House to move it. I hope this year we can complete the process and get 
a bill we can put on the President's desk so we are able to give the 
producers around this country the certainty they need when it comes to 
planting and making decisions about the future of their farming 
  While this bill is commonly called the farm bill, the majority of 
spending is not for the agricultural producers. The nutrition title of 
this bill, which is primarily food stamps, or what we refer to as SNAP, 
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, accounts for 77 percent of 
the spending in the farm bill programs over the next 10 years. Let me 
repeat that: Seventy-seven percent of all spending in this farm bill

[[Page S3825]]

doesn't have anything to do with production agriculture, but is in what 
we refer to as the nutrition title of the farm bill.
  It is important we subject all areas of Federal spending to close 
examination, and that includes the nutrition title of the farm bill. 
There should be no exceptions.
  I recently introduced legislation that will reform several components 
of the nutrition title and save more than $30 billion from the $760 
billion nutrition title, and that is a 10-year number.
  These commonsense reforms to SNAP generate significant savings 
without altering benefits to needy families. The SNAP is exceedingly 
complex. We should be vigilant to ensure that taxpayers' money is 
indeed going to help lift those in need out of poverty instead of going 
to ineffective programs that are mired in bureaucracy.
  I have offered several parts of the amendments of this reform package 
to the farm bill currently on the floor. My amendment No. 991, which I 
hope to have an opportunity to get voted on after we return following 
next week, reforms the nutrition, education, and obesity prevention 
grant program. While well-intended, the current structure of this 
program funnels 52 percent of the funding to only four States. This is 
an inequitable use of funds which should be spent more equitably among 
program participants.
  My amendment restructure of these grants will allow the States to 
receive up to $5 per SNAP enrollee indexed for inflation. Five dollars 
is the median value of what is currently spent on this education 
program per capita across all the States.
  This amendment in no way limits the capacity of the States to 
leverage those dollars with their own funding to deliver more nutrition 
education services. By reforming these grants, all recipients of SNAP 
benefits will have more equal access to nutrition education and obesity 
prevention resources that will help them make healthy choices when 
shopping on a budget.
  This amendment will save $2 billion over the next 10 years without 
impacting SNAP's benefits for those in need. Again, I want to stress 
this: Reforming this program does not affect the true mission of SNAP, 
which is providing food assistance to needy families. There is nothing 
in this amendment that changes eligibility requirements for SNAP 
benefits. Even after this nutrition education program is reformed, 
approximately $250 million a year will still be available to the States 
for these education programs.

  The priority of the SNAP should be providing food assistance to needy 
families while they work to get back on their feet. Unfortunately, the 
nutrition, education and obesity grant program has become so partial to 
just a few large States that these States are expanding the use of 
these grants to fund lobbying campaigns instead of reaching out to 
educate SNAP families on making healthy choices while shopping on a 
  Clearly, this program is in need of reform. Making commonsense 
changes to the SNAP shows the American people we are holding each 
Federal program up to the light and making sure the taxpayers' money is 
being spent for the public good.
  Again, these are largely administrative changes to the SNAP that do 
not impact SNAP benefits for those who are truly in need of food 
assistance. A $2 billion cut represents less than \1/2\ of 1 percent of 
what the Federal Government will spend on SNAP over the next 10 years.
  I ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me today in 
telling the American people we are committed to program integrity and 
quality among SNAP beneficiaries.
  In the course of the next few weeks when we get back on this bill, I 
look forward to engaging my colleagues in a fair and open debate about 
how we can improve all farm bill programs that strengthen the stability 
and safety of our Nation's food supply for the next 5 years and beyond.
  This is a commonsense amendment that saves us a couple of billion 
dollars which we can add to the savings in this bill in a time when we 
have rising deficits and debt and budgetary constraints we are 
operating with.
  I hope we will be able to come together in the interest of reform--
reform that actually targets the administrative costs of a program and 
does not impact benefits that are so needed for people who truly do 
need food assistance. I hope to get that amendment voted on when we 
return to the bill.
  The second amendment I want to mention today is another one I have 
filed, and that deals with the commodity title of the farm bill.
  Last year this body passed a farm bill by a vote of 64 to 35. This 
was a farm bill that most of us believed offered a level of reform we 
could support and defend to the American taxpayer.
  Several of my colleagues and I pointed out in the Agriculture 
Committee debate that we have deep concerns regarding what we believe 
is a step backward in the commodity title of this bill with the 
creation of the Adverse Market Payments, or what we now call the AMP 
  This program takes us a step backward from last year's farm bill by 
recreating a program with countercyclical payments and fixed target 
prices which the Senate farm bill completely eliminated last year.
  Our concerns are not crop specific, but they are policy specific. 
Most Agriculture Committee members were told by our producers that they 
don't need an additional commodity title program, and that a sound crop 
insurance program is a much higher priority.
  My amendment No. 1092 is a response to the wishes of most of the 
farmers in the United States. It simply strikes the newly created and 
unneeded Adverse Market Payments or AMP Program and places peanuts and 
rice back into the ARC Program. To put it simply, this amendment 
restores the reform-minded, market-oriented commodity title included in 
the farm bill we passed in the Senate last year.
  This amendment also saves taxpayers more than $3 billion relative to 
the bill that is on the floor today.
  High target prices are an outdated concept from past farm bills. They 
distort planning decisions, raise trade compliance issues, and they are 
not an effective use of limited taxpayer dollars.
  While I appreciate the work our chairwoman and ranking member have 
put into this farm bill, I believe the inclusion of target prices is a 
step backward from a market-oriented farm policy that is anchored by a 
strong crop insurance program.
  I urge my colleagues to support this amendment that recaptures the 
level of reform we achieved in last year's farm bill, and at the same 
time saves more than $3 billion over the bill that is on the floor 
  Both of these amendments have been filed. I hope as the debate moves 
forward we can get these amendments up and voted on.
  If we are serious about moving farm policy in this country in a 
direction of reform that is market oriented and is about the future and 
not the past, then this commodity title amendment makes all the sense 
in the world and, again, saves $3 billion over the bill that is on the 
floor today.
  I simply say with regard to the nutrition title amendment that too 
saves a couple of billion dollars. It makes reforms that I think create 
greater efficiency in the food stamp program and helps to address what 
I think is a very serious need which I think we all need to be aware 
and conscious of in the times we are in, and that is the out-of-control 
spending and out-of-control debt we are passing on to our children, 
grandchildren, and future generations. Passing a farm bill to achieve 
the highest level possible of additional savings, to me, seems to be a 
very high priority, and both of these amendments address those 
particular objectives.
  I look forward to getting these amendments hopefully voted on when we 
  With that, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cowan). The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.
  Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Ms. STABENOW. I ask unanimous consent that the following amendments 
be in order: Moran No. 987 and

[[Page S3826]]

Coons-Johanns No. 1079; that at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 3, the Senate 
proceed to votes in relation to the two amendments in the order listed; 
that there be no second-degree amendments in order to either amendment 
prior to the votes, and that there be 2 minutes equally divided between 
the votes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, in recent years the farm bill has changed 
and become more about welfare than providing a safety net for America's 
agriculture producers. Because this is so frustrating to me, I offered 
an amendment that would have restored the integrity of the farm bill. 
It would have cut the food stamp program by about $250 billion over ten 
years and converted it into a discretionary block grant. I am 
disappointed the Senate rejected my amendment by a vote of 36-60.
  But the crop insurance program remains the heart of the farm bill. 
Many of my colleagues believe it is appropriate to reduce the program's 
effectiveness by imposing means testing and other limitations on 
participation. These restrictions are counterproductive and result in 
crop insurance becoming more expensive for family farmers. I agree 
there are many issues that should be addressed to make the farm bill 
more about farming, but I am opposed to efforts to limit the 
effectiveness of the crop insurance program.

                            Vote Explanation

 Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I was unable to attend four roll 
call votes that occurred on May 23, 2013. Had I been present, I would 
have voted yea on the confirmation of Srikanth Srinivasan to be U.S. 
Circuit Judge, yea on Feinstein amendment No. 923 to end the Federal 
crop insurance subsidy for tobacco, yea on Hagan amendment No. 1031 to 
reduce fraud in the crop insurance program, and yea on Durbin amendment 
No. 953 to reduce crop insurance premium subsidies for those earning 
over $750,000 annually in adjusted gross income.