Missouri GOP Senate hopefuls mum on backing farm bill
WASHINGTON — Maybe they write farm bills every five years so members of Congress don't have to take so many tough votes.
In the nearly $1 trillion farm and food bill passed by the Senate this afternoon, many of the 73 amendments pitted reform-minded senators and budget hawks against the powerful farm lobby on questions of taxpayer subsidies. Others dealt with cutting food stamp assistance and conservation rather than the easy partisan votes that senators have grown accustomed to recently.
"Some of these votes are difficult," Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said this morning. "I think that's the price of being in the legislature, particularly being in the Senate."
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., joked on Wednesday evening that senators might need to "hide under our desks" for voting against the wishes of farm groups.
He was speaking just before the Senate did so again, adopting an amendment to reduce crop insurance subsidies to farmers with an adjusted gross income of more than $750,000. Missouri's senators, Claire McCaskill (D) and Roy Blunt (R), opposed the reduction. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., supported it.
How would candidates for Missouri's GOP Senate nomination have voted?
It's unknown because none responded on where they stood on a list of controversial amendments dealing with subsidies to wealthy farmers or changes in the food stamp program.
Nor would the candidates say how they would have voted on the bill itself. McCaskill and Blunt both supported the legislation, citing its reforms, overall savings and the importance of its programs to a farm state like Missouri.
Sarah Steelman said in a statement: "Agriculture is important to Missouri, so it's disappointing to learn that 80 percent of the farm bill is food stamp spending. That should be addressed separately. I will oppose bills that create burdensome regulations or increase costs to taxpayers. But there are important aspects of the farm bill, such as crop insurance, that require a strong familiarity with farm families and their needs."
Steelman spokesman Patrick Tuohey said her campaign wouldn't address specific amendments.
"I imagine a lot of this is a result of negotiations between senators. Given that Sarah Steelman isn't privvy to any of that, it's probably best that we not comment without knowing that type of background," he said.
Likewise, the campaign of John Brunner wouldn't say how the St. Louis businessman viewed the amendments or how he would have voted on the bill.
"As a U.S. senator, John will fight to repeal burdensome EPA regulations, halt new, industry-crippling mandates from being implemented, promote new export opportunities for our farmers and ranchers and support pro-growth measures to provide America’s agribusiness with the best opportunity to succeed," Brunner spokesman Todd Abrajano said in a statement.
The campaign of Rep. Todd Akin, R-Wildwood, had not responded to inquiries.