December 6, 2001 – House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest was sharply critical of Senate Democrat Majority Leader Tom Daschle's decision not to cooperate with the House to complete a farm bill this year. Commenting Thursday morning to reporters as to why he is not finalizing a farm bill into law this year, Daschle counts on a narrow time window before a new budget process begins when Congress reconvenes with work in February 2002.
"Three weeks' delay after their Committee writes a farm bill, and now only after some speeches, Senate Democrat Majority Leader Tom Daschle reveals there will not be a farm bill this week, and he will not cooperate with the House to complete a farm bill this year," said House Agriculture Chairman Larry Combest (R-Texas).
"For the Senate to delay passage of the farm bill and then not complete their job is like shining up the tractor, driving up to the edge of the field and stalling the engine. It is incredible that the Majority Leader, who represents a state heavily dependent on farming, would abandon producers and leave them to depend on what he admits is 'a very narrow window' to send the farm bill to the president. Why isn't Senator Daschle working around the clock to pass a Senate bill and rapidly complete a conference this year? Apparently, Senator Daschle is content to leave farmers stuck in limbo for months to come."
(Editors note: TRANSCRIPT of Senator Daschle's comments this morning:)
QUESTION: Are you concerned that the new farm bill has been signed into law this year (inaudible) of the budget resolution set aside for agriculture will be gone when you come back next year?
DASCHLE: I don't think it's necessarily gone as soon as we come back, but it's gone, of course, as soon as the budget process gets under way. So I think we've got a very narrow window, which is one of the main reasons why we're trying to complete our work, at least in the Senate, on the bill before we leave.
Copyright (c) 2001 Reuters
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