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WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of the Farm Bill. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"Mr. Speaker, I first want to thank the Chairman of the Committee, Congressman Peterson of Minnesota, for his hard work on this important legislation and his efforts in crafting a strong bipartisan, reform bill.
"It is a testament to his hard work that this Farm Bill reauthorization passed out of the Agriculture Committee on a voice vote - that is, with unanimous bipartisan support.
"I also appreciate the work of the gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr. Kind, who cares deeply about agriculture and our rural communities. He has made important contributions on this issue.
"Now, despite some opposition expressed on the Floor yesterday, I believe that this Farm Bill is going to pass today with strong bipartisan support.
"And, I note that the Ranking Member on the Committee, Mr. Goodlatte, even expressed on this House Floor yesterday that he would support this bill were it not for the inclusion of a 'pay for.'
"About that provision, let us be clear:
"At literally the eleventh hour, as this Farm Bill was about to be considered on this Floor, the White House issued a veto threat - and, amazingly, complained that we are actually trying to pay for this legislation, in part, by closing a corporate tax loophole.
"Not just any corporate tax loophole, mind you.
"But a corporate tax loophole that the Bush Administration itself recommended closing in 2002.
"Yes, Democrats would make it harder for overseas companies to use tax havens to avoid taxes on U.S. profits - a position formerly held by the Bush Administration, and even Bill Thomas, the former Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
"This provision is not only good tax policy, but also a clear manifestation of this new Democratic Majority's commitment to abide by the pay-as-you-go budget rules that will help us restore fiscal discipline.
"Now, as to the substance of this Farm Bill, Chairman Peterson has written a bill that focuses on getting vital benefits to family farmers, investing in America's producers, stimulating rural economies and securing renewable energy resources.
"This bill imposes real payment limitations that will begin to reduce subsidies. It makes historic investments in programs to support fruit and vegetable producers. It improves funding and access to conservation programs. It imposes payment limits that prevents millionaires from receiving farm subsidy benefits, and makes payments transparent. It invests in nutrition programs that help families in need. And, it encourages the expansion of renewable fuel production, providing loan guarantees for the development of refineries that produce renewable fuels.
"Mr. Speaker, I am particularly pleased that this legislation includes more than $175 million in direct assistance to help our farmers in their ongoing efforts to be good stewards of the Chesapeake Bay.
"We have made some strides to restore this magnificent estuary, but much more work must be done.
"To move us forward in this regard, the bill will implement an innovative strategy - targeting individual river watersheds, including the Patuxent and Potomac - to help our producers prevent shoreline erosion, control sediments, reduce nitrogen loads, and establish a long-term monitoring program.
"Again, I want to congratulate Chairman Peterson on this bill - a farm bill that stakes out a new direction and lays a strong foundation on which to build. I urge my colleagues: Let's put politics aside and pass this good bill."