House Ag Democrats Advance Budget on Party Line Vote, Sink GOP Amendments

House Ag Democrats advanced over two days, the panel’s part of the $3.5 trillion Biden social spending bill on a party-line (27-24) vote, after killing numerous GOP amendments.

One after another, on keeping the stepped-up basis, including major broadband legislation, extending WHIP-plus disaster aid, and boosting dollars for African Swine Fever, Democrats killed GOP amendments to the $96 billion Ag part of the budget.

Ranking Ag Republican GT Thompson grew frustrated after repeated failed efforts to urge the Ways and Means Committee to keep the stepped-up-basis tax break for farms and ranches. “So far, we’ve offered you the chance to adjourn this hearing until we could get more information—you declined. Mr. Feenstra suggested a novel way to protect farmers, but you declined that, too. Mrs. Fischbach offered an amendment drafted from your own words, laying out a powerful case against laying out new taxes on farmers, but you declined that as well.”

And so, it went for nine hours with votes completed Monday, as GOP riders fell, including one to include House Ag’s unanimously passed $43 billion Broadband Internet Connections for Rural America Act.

But Ag Democrats led by Chairman David Scott were sticking to the Speaker Pelosi’s script on the Ag budget.  Scott conceded he could not do otherwise. “Right now, it’s very delicate, I’m in a delicate position, and my position would be weakened. I want to keep myself strong in this, and you and I working together, we got enough Democrats on our side, that we can make a difference in helping our farmers, not be subjected to the step-up.”

But none of that may matter if moderate Senate Democrat Joe Manchin dashes Democrats’ hopes for $3.5 trillion in social spending, telling NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “we’ve got to get back to this country to where we, that we can look at each other and agree to disagree, and then work through our differences, that’s where the Senate comes in.”

Manchin on CNN said he could only back up to $1.5 trillion in new social spending, arguing for a pause on the Biden bill and stressing the urgency of finishing a road and bridge bill first—an order House Democrats vehemently oppose in a fight that could derail both bills.