Congressman Southerland Responds to Farm Bill Rejection - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Congressman Southerland Responds to Farm Bill Rejection in the House

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Congressman Steve Southerland was in Panama City Friday afternoon and spoke with News13 on the rejection of the Farm Bill in the House.

Southerland pushed for an amendment to the bill that would have put work restrictions on those able bodied people receiving food stamps.

His amendment passed, but the farm bill didn't. The bill went down in Washington 195-234, with Southerland's amendment passing by 29 votes.

"My amendment said that able bodied people excluding children, excluding disabled, excluding seniors--but able bodied people-- had to be working 20 hours a week, or being trained 20 hours a week, or looking for employment for 20 hours a week, or even doing volunteer work they could be delivering meals on wheels," said Southerland.

He went on to say letting people, who have not been introduced to a positive aspect of work, continue on a path of dependence is not positive road to go down.  

The Farm Bill provides guidelines and regulations for farmers, but also sets loan prices and affects not only agriculture in the field, but school lunches and various food programs.

The Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill last week in large numbers, but had significantly less cuts than the proposed House bill.

The White House was supportive of the Senate bill but had issued a veto threat of the House version.

In a statement from Chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party Allison Tant, she cites Time Magazine calling Southerland's amendment the 'poison pill' that torpedoed the Farm Bill-- creating a divide between parties in the house.

She goes on to say that Southerland has shown again why he represents everything Floridians hate about Congress.

Southerland insists that his amendment was built upon a bipartisan welfare reform law from 1996 under President Clinton.

He says the Farm Bill rejection is regrettable, but he is still hopeful from his amendment victory.

"I don't know why they can have bipartisanship then and we cannot embrace bipartisanship now to put people to work, to introduce them to a much better quality of life," said Southerland.

If the two chambers cannot come together on a bill, farm-state lawmakers could push for an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill that expires in September or try for a new bill with the Senate.