WASHINGTON – A conservative anti-tax group has pushed some Republicans to back off support for a vote on the latest farm bill.
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, had signed a petition last Wednesday that would have forced a vote in the House on the legislation but later removed his name. Though the bill came out of committee this summer, it has not yet been filed for a vote before the full House. The discharge petition, introduced by U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, pushes the farm bill for a full floor vote.
Nine Republicans signed the petition, but only Tipton and Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., withdrew their support. In an email to The Durango Herald, Tipton’s spokesman said he had signed the petition to send a message to GOP leadership urging action on the bill.
“That message got attention, and after adding his name, leadership assured Congressman Tipton that they would be taking action on the House floor in the near future to provide some certainty for the agriculture community,” Tipton spokesman Josh Green wrote in the email. “With that assurance, Congressman Tipton was comfortable with removing his name from the petition.”
The Club for Growth threatened Republicans who signed the discharge with a bad report card on its website. In the past, negative ratings from the group have often resulted in a club-backed primary opponent or negative advertising.
The group opposes the farm bill, saying it adds a “whopping 60 percent increase in spending over the 2008 bill, it creates new entitlement programs that could prove extra costly to taxpayers and it does nothing to reform the food stamps program.”
The House version has made more severe cuts than the Senate version, which takes $16 billion from food stamps. Some House Republicans say it’s not enough to meet the $130 billion in savings under the 2013 House budget.
The likelihood of the bill passing before Sept. 30 is slim, congressional staffers said.
Tipton’s Democratic opponent, Sal Pace, criticized him for removing his name.
“It seems like a pattern where congressman Tipton is more concerned with serving his party instead of serving his constituents,” Pace said.
He said many people in the 3rd Congressional District rely heavily on farm-bill programs, including the conservation reserve program, drought mitigation and funds to combat bark beetles.
Leigh Giangreco is an intern for The Durango Herald and a student at American University in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at email@example.com