7:08 PM EDT

Eva M Clayton, D-NC 1st

Mrs. CLAYTON. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

When the gentleman said that he really is looking for ways for efficiency, I think if he was an astute politician he would know that merely cutting is not necessarily the way to efficiency. Efficiency includes more than dollar amounts.

7:08 PM EDT

Eva M Clayton, D-NC 1st

Mrs. CLAYTON. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

When the gentleman said that he really is looking for ways for efficiency, I think if he was an astute politician he would know that merely cutting is not necessarily the way to efficiency. Efficiency includes more than dollar amounts.

7:08 PM EDT

Eva M Clayton, D-NC 1st

Mrs. CLAYTON. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.

When the gentleman said that he really is looking for ways for efficiency, I think if he was an astute politician he would know that merely cutting is not necessarily the way to efficiency. Efficiency includes more than dollar amounts.

7:09 PM EDT

Eva M Clayton, D-NC 1st

Mrs. CLAYTON. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Chairman, the assumption is that the gentleman is looking for efficiency, and therefore, if we leave it at that level, meaning less expenditure, then by that definition, we would have more efficiency.

But let me tell the gentleman what these particular funds he proposes that are not needed will be used for: one, for the Office of Civil Rights. And that may not be important to the gentleman from Oklahoma, but I can tell him it is important to a large number of farmers who felt that this USDA, who the gentleman says is inefficient, had also not been fair, and in fact had to file a lawsuit as a result of their discriminatory actions.

This now allows them to more efficiently respond to those complaints rather than have the U.S. Government to pay out a large settlement because of the failure of their accountability and responsibility. $1.6 million of the $3.6 goes to the Office of Civil Rights.

Even more important to socially disadvantaged farmers is the $931 million that affords the opportunity for small farmers, not just necessarily minority farmers, but small, disadvantaged farmers who will have outreach and technical assistance. This may not be big to the gentleman from Oklahoma, but it is efficiency in their way of thinking to have the kinds of services explained to them, to have the technical assistance so they can more efficiently produce their products with the kind of expectation

that they will be profitable in their livelihood.

So the $3.9 million which is being offered here already is insufficient to meet all of the needs.

If the gentleman's definition were applied, I think he actually would need to add to this, if the gentleman is truly about putting the money where it is most needed and making sure it is implemented. I would think by the gentleman's definition, and I disagree with the gentleman's premise, it would say this is insufficient.

If the gentleman understood what this is doing, he would say they should have been doing this. They should do it better. There should be more outreach programs, not less. The Office of Civil Rights should have been there before. These farmers should not have had to sue.

Now we are putting a structure there so that there can be the kind of investigation that needs to be there.

So I would think the gentleman would want to be on the side of, not anticivil rights, but the gentleman would want to be on the side of, there should be fairness and there should be a structure there to deal with this. And the gentleman's amendment, in his zeal for his fiscal philosophy denies the very premise of efficiency of this department serving the people who need it most.

So I would urge that this amendment on its merit, not on the philosophy, just on its merit, should be defeated.

7:09 PM EDT

Eva M Clayton, D-NC 1st

Mrs. CLAYTON. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Chairman, the assumption is that the gentleman is looking for efficiency, and therefore, if we leave it at that level, meaning less expenditure, then by that definition, we would have more efficiency.

But let me tell the gentleman what these particular funds he proposes that are not needed will be used for: one, for the Office of Civil Rights. And that may not be important to the gentleman from Oklahoma, but I can tell him it is important to a large number of farmers who felt that this USDA, who the gentleman says is inefficient, had also not been fair, and in fact had to file a lawsuit as a result of their discriminatory actions.

This now allows them to more efficiently respond to those complaints rather than have the U.S. Government to pay out a large settlement because of the failure of their accountability and responsibility. $1.6 million of the $3.6 goes to the Office of Civil Rights.

Even more important to socially disadvantaged farmers is the $931 million that affords the opportunity for small farmers, not just necessarily minority farmers, but small, disadvantaged farmers who will have outreach and technical assistance. This may not be big to the gentleman from Oklahoma, but it is efficiency in their way of thinking to have the kinds of services explained to them, to have the technical assistance so they can more efficiently produce their products with the kind of expectation

that they will be profitable in their livelihood.

So the $3.9 million which is being offered here already is insufficient to meet all of the needs.

If the gentleman's definition were applied, I think he actually would need to add to this, if the gentleman is truly about putting the money where it is most needed and making sure it is implemented. I would think by the gentleman's definition, and I disagree with the gentleman's premise, it would say this is insufficient.

If the gentleman understood what this is doing, he would say they should have been doing this. They should do it better. There should be more outreach programs, not less. The Office of Civil Rights should have been there before. These farmers should not have had to sue.

Now we are putting a structure there so that there can be the kind of investigation that needs to be there.

So I would think the gentleman would want to be on the side of, not anticivil rights, but the gentleman would want to be on the side of, there should be fairness and there should be a structure there to deal with this. And the gentleman's amendment, in his zeal for his fiscal philosophy denies the very premise of efficiency of this department serving the people who need it most.

So I would urge that this amendment on its merit, not on the philosophy, just on its merit, should be defeated.

7:12 PM EDT

Joseph Skeen, R-NM 2nd

Mr. SKEEN. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

My colleagues, the Department of Agriculture has been dealing with serious civil rights issues for the last several years. Minority farmers and employees at USDA have filed discrimination litigation, and the increase provided in this account would go a long way towards addressing some of those civil rights issues.

I would like to have that entered in the discussion because I think the gentlewoman from North Carolina had a very pertinent point.

7:12 PM EDT

Joseph Skeen, R-NM 2nd

Mr. SKEEN. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

My colleagues, the Department of Agriculture has been dealing with serious civil rights issues for the last several years. Minority farmers and employees at USDA have filed discrimination litigation, and the increase provided in this account would go a long way towards addressing some of those civil rights issues.

I would like to have that entered in the discussion because I think the gentlewoman from North Carolina had a very pertinent point.

7:16 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment. First of all, let me say that if the offerors of the amendment want efficiency, then surely the bill that our subcommittee has brought to the floor is efficient.

In fact, the author of the amendment stated in his last comments on the floor that we were in fact within the budget allocation. So we have a very efficient bill, without question.

Now, this particular amendment is one that goes after one particular function at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the proponents claim that it is efficient. Let me say that overall, our bill is efficient. But in making decisions in the public realm, one has to not only be efficient, one has to be equitable, and I would oppose the gentleman's amendment on the basis that it is not equitable.

Why? What are these funds dedicated to? They are dedicated to redressing wrongs inside USDA and an inability, because of discrimination in past years, for that department to deal with all of America, all of America's farmers, regardless of color, regardless of creed, regardless of sex, whatever.

The funding that is provided, and even the Wall Street Journal has done front page stories on this, my colleagues do not have to listen to this Member, they just need to call it up on their web site, is to redress past wrongs.

The inability of this department in past years to serve all of America's farmers, to make sure that the credit programs were open to all farmers, to make sure that when people worked hard, just because they might have had low equity did not mean that their work did not have a value, and that in fact they perhaps should not have been ignored for decades and in fact perhaps for a century and a half.

And so I would say to those who offer this amendment, I would hope they would withdraw this. I think to try to cut funds, for example, for the Office of Outreach, and again our bill is within the budget allocation, means that they will continue the historic discrimination that has characterized so much of the behavior of our Government and our people in this century and the last.

This is the first time we have had a chance to do what is both efficient and equitable. And I would ask my colleagues and those who are offering this amendment to really seriously consider what they are about to do. I really do not think they want to do this. I think they want to do what is right for America, right for all of its people, and right for the future.

I would encourage my colleagues to vote a strong ``no'' on this Coburn amendment.

7:18 PM EDT

Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment. First of all, let me say that if the offerors of the amendment want efficiency, then surely the bill that our subcommittee has brought to the floor is efficient.

In fact, the author of the amendment stated in his last comments on the floor that we were in fact within the budget allocation. So we have a very efficient bill, without question.

Now, this particular amendment is one that goes after one particular function at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the proponents claim that it is efficient. Let me say that overall, our bill is efficient. But in making decisions in the public realm, one has to not only be efficient, one has to be equitable, and I would oppose the gentleman's amendment on the basis that it is not equitable.

Why? What are these funds dedicated to? They are dedicated to redressing wrongs inside USDA and an inability, because of discrimination in past years, for that department to deal with all of America, all of America's farmers, regardless of color, regardless of creed, regardless of sex, whatever.

The funding that is provided, and even the Wall Street Journal has done front page stories on this, my colleagues do not have to listen to this Member, they just need to call it up on their web site, is to redress past wrongs.

The inability of this department in past years to serve all of America's farmers, to make sure that the credit programs were open to all farmers, to make sure that when people worked hard, just because they might have had low equity did not mean that their work did not have a value, and that in fact they perhaps should not have been ignored for decades and in fact perhaps for a century and a half.

And so I would say to those who offer this amendment, I would hope they would withdraw this. I think to try to cut funds, for example, for the Office of Outreach, and again our bill is within the budget allocation, means that they will continue the historic discrimination that has characterized so much of the behavior of our Government and our people in this century and the last.

This is the first time we have had a chance to do what is both efficient and equitable. And I would ask my colleagues and those who are offering this amendment to really seriously consider what they are about to do. I really do not think they want to do this. I think they want to do what is right for America, right for all of its people, and right for the future.

I would encourage my colleagues to vote a strong ``no'' on this Coburn amendment.

7:21 PM EDT

Jay Dickey, R-AR 4th

Mr. DICKEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I understand the concern of the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN). I think it is a concern for this bill as well as the other appropriations bill, and I join in that concern. And I know he had a concern about the supplemental, and I did too, about it running wild, about us missing the point as far as what ``emergency'' was and what ``emergency'' was not.

But I serve on this subcommittee, this Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies of the Committee on Appropriations, and I know the balance that we have to give, so I stand here sort of split and yet not split on this particular issue.

To bring this within the caps, I think the chairman from New Mexico (Mr. SKEEN) did a wonderful job. It has been easy over the years when we could just borrow money and say, well, the heck with it. We do not care about this or that. But we gave our word and we kept our word.

Now, what the problem is, is that I think that the position of the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN) is lessened somewhat about this accusation of filibuster. And I hope he can hear me and he will come and talk about it. But I know that we have had this before in past years. I would like for the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. COBURN), if he can, to come and defend that position of filibustering because I think it was his words, from what I understand, and it is going to undermine

those elements, that we need to push down the expenses that we have in the appropriations bill.

7:24 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd

Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, I would disagree. I think that the American people benefit from seeing the debates on how we spend money; and the closer that we put the magnifying glass to it, the better we are as a country.

And I understand the pride of ownership of the Committee on Appropriations as they work hard to bring these bills up. And I am going to remind my colleagues again, when we talked about the rule, I said when we talked on the general debate hour that this was a good bill. I want to try to make it better, and I also want us to not be in a position where we are going to spend the first dollar of Social Security surplus.

7:24 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd

Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, I would disagree. I think that the American people benefit from seeing the debates on how we spend money; and the closer that we put the magnifying glass to it, the better we are as a country.

And I understand the pride of ownership of the Committee on Appropriations as they work hard to bring these bills up. And I am going to remind my colleagues again, when we talked about the rule, I said when we talked on the general debate hour that this was a good bill. I want to try to make it better, and I also want us to not be in a position where we are going to spend the first dollar of Social Security surplus.

7:24 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd

Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, I would disagree. I think that the American people benefit from seeing the debates on how we spend money; and the closer that we put the magnifying glass to it, the better we are as a country.

And I understand the pride of ownership of the Committee on Appropriations as they work hard to bring these bills up. And I am going to remind my colleagues again, when we talked about the rule, I said when we talked on the general debate hour that this was a good bill. I want to try to make it better, and I also want us to not be in a position where we are going to spend the first dollar of Social Security surplus.

7:28 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd

Mr. COBURN. Mr. Chairman, ``filibuster'' is not my word. My word is let us bring it back to the freeze level of where we were last year and ask for efficiency, and I am willing to do that. And I have said here on this floor, as soon as we are back to the level in terms of cuts, I am through.

I am looking for dollars. The term to ``filibuster,'' it is a filibuster in terms of taking time, but that is not my intention. My intention is to get us back down to where we were last year. My colleagues will see me walk right out of here as soon as we have done it. But to resist calls for efficiency, to resist debate on issues is not fair to the American public.

And to impugn my motivations. I want to tell my colleagues something. My motivations are pure. I think about my grandkids and I think about the grandkids of all of those patients that I take care of. Every baby, three babies this weekend, I spank the bottom of. I delivered three new babies into this world. Every one of them owes $21,000, and it is growing at $500 a year, what they owe.

[Time: 19:30]

They will never see the first penny of Social Security unless we have the courage to step up to the plate and demand change in Washington and demand it of ourselves. I am not talking about not having the right priorities. I do not want to punish our farmers. But I want us to create an environment of change that says we are not going to spend more, we can do better, we can spend less.

7:32 PM EDT

John N. Hostettler, R-IN 8th

Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Chairman, discussion has taken place with regard to the motives and the application of the process. I would just like to remind the Members and talk very briefly about an incident that happened on the floor just a couple of hours ago.

That was, I opposed the rule for the consideration of this bill because the bill spends more money than it did last year. The discretionary amount is more than what we passed out of this House last year.

I was asked why I would oppose an open rule, and I think that was a good question. I think that was a good question because the Committee on Rules, I believe, relinquishes a great deal of power whenever they decide to give an open rule, and it was a good question. The reason was not because we had the freedom of an open rule, but merely because the rule allowed for the deliberation on this floor of a bill that spent more money last year, the very first bill in the appropriations process that

we deal with is going to spend more money than we spent on this bill before.

And so the reason that the gentleman is offering so many amendments is not for the sake of a filibuster, but for the simple fact that we have an open rule.

I was led to believe that an open rule would allow for free debate. Now we hear that the debate should in fact be reduced, should be cut off by the gentleman from Oklahoma. I think in fact if we are going to have an open rule and a gentleman will go to the hardship of having many of these amendments preprinted in the RECORD and offering them himself, we should at least recognize the Rules of the House.

Secondly, with regard to hurting America's farmers, I do not know, maybe southwest Indiana farmers are different from other farmers, but whenever I ask farmers in southwest Indiana what they would like to see coming from the Federal Government, the first thing they always tell me is tax relief. I tell them we can cut taxes, but if we continue to increase spending [Page: H3577]

across the board, even in the Agriculture Department, somebody is going to have to pay for

that.

And so when I say we can either give you tax relief or we can take more of your tax dollars to allow the various bureaucracies to spend that money in order to help you, they realize in fact that Washington, D.C. is probably not the best source of their help.

Secondly, they ask for regulatory relief. If individuals really want to help farmers, they will indeed support regulatory relief, and for a little bit of commercial activity, I will merely tout the virtues of H.R. 1578, my Protect American Agricultural Lands Act of 1999, which will allow for that land which has been in production 5 of the last 10 years to be exempt from clean water permitting, because in fact it has been used for farming.

Thirdly, the agriculture community wants open markets, places where they can sell their product. But they do not want open market agreements for the sake of merely signing an agreement. They want agreements that can be enforced, enforced by this administration which they see dreadfully lacking.

Finally, I will simply say that this is the opportunity that many of us that do not necessarily serve on the House Committee on Appropriations have to offer amendments in this fashion. When we look at all the various constituencies of all of these provisions, we realize that in fact there is the potential in the future to not cut $5 billion from the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Department. There will not be the opportunity to cut almost $4 billion from the Veterans' Administration

and the Housing and Urban Development bill that is going to come up later, that in fact if we are not diligent from the very outset of this whole appropriations process, that in fact it will whirl out of control; and when we get to the end of the appropriations season later this year, that we will

in fact be busting the caps and having to reduce our commitment to cutting taxes, our commitment to stopping the raids on the Social Security trust fund; and we will in fact tell America that indeed Washington D.C. knows best, and if you simply give us more of your money, we will prove it to you.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the gentleman's amendment and ask that the Committee do likewise.

7:32 PM EDT

John N. Hostettler, R-IN 8th

Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Chairman, discussion has taken place with regard to the motives and the application of the process. I would just like to remind the Members and talk very briefly about an incident that happened on the floor just a couple of hours ago.

That was, I opposed the rule for the consideration of this bill because the bill spends more money than it did last year. The discretionary amount is more than what we passed out of this House last year.

I was asked why I would oppose an open rule, and I think that was a good question. I think that was a good question because the Committee on Rules, I believe, relinquishes a great deal of power whenever they decide to give an open rule, and it was a good question. The reason was not because we had the freedom of an open rule, but merely because the rule allowed for the deliberation on this floor of a bill that spent more money last year, the very first bill in the appropriations process that

we deal with is going to spend more money than we spent on this bill before.

And so the reason that the gentleman is offering so many amendments is not for the sake of a filibuster, but for the simple fact that we have an open rule.

I was led to believe that an open rule would allow for free debate. Now we hear that the debate should in fact be reduced, should be cut off by the gentleman from Oklahoma. I think in fact if we are going to have an open rule and a gentleman will go to the hardship of having many of these amendments preprinted in the RECORD and offering them himself, we should at least recognize the Rules of the House.

Secondly, with regard to hurting America's farmers, I do not know, maybe southwest Indiana farmers are different from other farmers, but whenever I ask farmers in southwest Indiana what they would like to see coming from the Federal Government, the first thing they always tell me is tax relief. I tell them we can cut taxes, but if we continue to increase spending [Page: H3577]

across the board, even in the Agriculture Department, somebody is going to have to pay for

that.

And so when I say we can either give you tax relief or we can take more of your tax dollars to allow the various bureaucracies to spend that money in order to help you, they realize in fact that Washington, D.C. is probably not the best source of their help.

Secondly, they ask for regulatory relief. If individuals really want to help farmers, they will indeed support regulatory relief, and for a little bit of commercial activity, I will merely tout the virtues of H.R. 1578, my Protect American Agricultural Lands Act of 1999, which will allow for that land which has been in production 5 of the last 10 years to be exempt from clean water permitting, because in fact it has been used for farming.

Thirdly, the agriculture community wants open markets, places where they can sell their product. But they do not want open market agreements for the sake of merely signing an agreement. They want agreements that can be enforced, enforced by this administration which they see dreadfully lacking.

Finally, I will simply say that this is the opportunity that many of us that do not necessarily serve on the House Committee on Appropriations have to offer amendments in this fashion. When we look at all the various constituencies of all of these provisions, we realize that in fact there is the potential in the future to not cut $5 billion from the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Department. There will not be the opportunity to cut almost $4 billion from the Veterans' Administration

and the Housing and Urban Development bill that is going to come up later, that in fact if we are not diligent from the very outset of this whole appropriations process, that in fact it will whirl out of control; and when we get to the end of the appropriations season later this year, that we will

in fact be busting the caps and having to reduce our commitment to cutting taxes, our commitment to stopping the raids on the Social Security trust fund; and we will in fact tell America that indeed Washington D.C. knows best, and if you simply give us more of your money, we will prove it to you.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the gentleman's amendment and ask that the Committee do likewise.

7:32 PM EDT

John N. Hostettler, R-IN 8th

Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Chairman, discussion has taken place with regard to the motives and the application of the process. I would just like to remind the Members and talk very briefly about an incident that happened on the floor just a couple of hours ago.

That was, I opposed the rule for the consideration of this bill because the bill spends more money than it did last year. The discretionary amount is more than what we passed out of this House last year.

I was asked why I would oppose an open rule, and I think that was a good question. I think that was a good question because the Committee on Rules, I believe, relinquishes a great deal of power whenever they decide to give an open rule, and it was a good question. The reason was not because we had the freedom of an open rule, but merely because the rule allowed for the deliberation on this floor of a bill that spent more money last year, the very first bill in the appropriations process that

we deal with is going to spend more money than we spent on this bill before.

And so the reason that the gentleman is offering so many amendments is not for the sake of a filibuster, but for the simple fact that we have an open rule.

I was led to believe that an open rule would allow for free debate. Now we hear that the debate should in fact be reduced, should be cut off by the gentleman from Oklahoma. I think in fact if we are going to have an open rule and a gentleman will go to the hardship of having many of these amendments preprinted in the RECORD and offering them himself, we should at least recognize the Rules of the House.

Secondly, with regard to hurting America's farmers, I do not know, maybe southwest Indiana farmers are different from other farmers, but whenever I ask farmers in southwest Indiana what they would like to see coming from the Federal Government, the first thing they always tell me is tax relief. I tell them we can cut taxes, but if we continue to increase spending [Page: H3577]

across the board, even in the Agriculture Department, somebody is going to have to pay for

that.

And so when I say we can either give you tax relief or we can take more of your tax dollars to allow the various bureaucracies to spend that money in order to help you, they realize in fact that Washington, D.C. is probably not the best source of their help.

Secondly, they ask for regulatory relief. If individuals really want to help farmers, they will indeed support regulatory relief, and for a little bit of commercial activity, I will merely tout the virtues of H.R. 1578, my Protect American Agricultural Lands Act of 1999, which will allow for that land which has been in production 5 of the last 10 years to be exempt from clean water permitting, because in fact it has been used for farming.

Thirdly, the agriculture community wants open markets, places where they can sell their product. But they do not want open market agreements for the sake of merely signing an agreement. They want agreements that can be enforced, enforced by this administration which they see dreadfully lacking.

Finally, I will simply say that this is the opportunity that many of us that do not necessarily serve on the House Committee on Appropriations have to offer amendments in this fashion. When we look at all the various constituencies of all of these provisions, we realize that in fact there is the potential in the future to not cut $5 billion from the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Department. There will not be the opportunity to cut almost $4 billion from the Veterans' Administration

and the Housing and Urban Development bill that is going to come up later, that in fact if we are not diligent from the very outset of this whole appropriations process, that in fact it will whirl out of control; and when we get to the end of the appropriations season later this year, that we will

in fact be busting the caps and having to reduce our commitment to cutting taxes, our commitment to stopping the raids on the Social Security trust fund; and we will in fact tell America that indeed Washington D.C. knows best, and if you simply give us more of your money, we will prove it to you.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the gentleman's amendment and ask that the Committee do likewise.

7:37 PM EDT

Charles W. Stenholm, D-TX 17th

Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Again, I think it is important that we focus on the process which we are discussing today. Again, I quarrel not with the motives of the gentleman from Oklahoma. He has every right, as others have said, to bring the amendments before this body that he has brought today; and I have opposed them because I disagree with them.

I think it is important, though, for everyone to understand the real quarrel apparently is with the leadership on the other side of the aisle. That is where the quarrel is. Because we are disagreeing with the numbers that have been given to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. That was given as a leadership decision.

I happen to have supported a budget that protected Social Security, that paid off $88 billion more debt over the next 5 years than the budget we are talking about, provided a reasonable tax cut and improved the funding of five priority areas, one of which was agriculture of which I am prepared to say we are $450 million under what we need to be spending for American agriculture.

Why do I say that? Because I am proud of our American agricultural system, from our farmers on up and down. We have the most abundant food supply in this Nation, we have the best quality of food, we have the safest food supply to our consumers of any country in the world, and we do it at the lowest cost, including all of this, quote, ``wasteful spending'' we are talking about today.

Now, do I make this argument in saying that we cannot do better? Obviously we could do better. But we have ways of doing it better. It is called the House Committee on Agriculture and it is called the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies that spend the hours looking at these details and making those decisions. I put my trust in them, on the first part because I am one, but I do not quarrel at all with the gentleman

who chooses to say that we have not done our jobs properly.

Let me read this letter:

The American Farm Bureau Federation is aware of a long list of amendments to be offered to H.R. 1906. In addition to the letter sent this morning, we are deeply concerned about these amendments and the approach being taken against general agriculture programs.

Specifically, we are opposed to amendments that would prohibit funding to promote the sale or export of tobacco, decrease spending for the APHIS Boll Weevil Program and effectively eliminate the Boll Weevil Eradication Program. We oppose any cut in funding for agricultural research programs for wool, cotton, shrimp aquaculture, blueberries, specialty crops or precision agriculture. We oppose any attempts to decrease funding for agriculture market analysis, promotion and rural development.

Further, we oppose cuts in funding for conservation programs, the peanut price support loan rate and any reductions in research or other cuts to peanut support programs. We also oppose any attempts to effectively eliminate any international or domestic marketing programs.

Farm Bureau has worked closely with the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and supports the bill as reported by the committee.

This is our largest farm organization that has looked at the work of the gentlewoman and the gentleman and others in saying, in their judgment, we cannot make these cuts without doing harm. Again, I specifically have objected to the previous two amendments and to this amendment for the reasons that were specified before, in pointing out that if we are going to be critical of inefficient operation in USDA, if we are going to be critical of those ``who have not been able to do their job,'' quote-unquote,

then how do we justify coming in and saying we are going to deny them the tools to bring them into the modern century of technology which is what the committee suggested be done?

That is the simple question. It deserves a simple ``no'' vote on the amendment.

7:37 PM EDT

Charles W. Stenholm, D-TX 17th

Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Again, I think it is important that we focus on the process which we are discussing today. Again, I quarrel not with the motives of the gentleman from Oklahoma. He has every right, as others have said, to bring the amendments before this body that he has brought today; and I have opposed them because I disagree with them.

I think it is important, though, for everyone to understand the real quarrel apparently is with the leadership on the other side of the aisle. That is where the quarrel is. Because we are disagreeing with the numbers that have been given to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. That was given as a leadership decision.

I happen to have supported a budget that protected Social Security, that paid off $88 billion more debt over the next 5 years than the budget we are talking about, provided a reasonable tax cut and improved the funding of five priority areas, one of which was agriculture of which I am prepared to say we are $450 million under what we need to be spending for American agriculture.

Why do I say that? Because I am proud of our American agricultural system, from our farmers on up and down. We have the most abundant food supply in this Nation, we have the best quality of food, we have the safest food supply to our consumers of any country in the world, and we do it at the lowest cost, including all of this, quote, ``wasteful spending'' we are talking about today.

Now, do I make this argument in saying that we cannot do better? Obviously we could do better. But we have ways of doing it better. It is called the House Committee on Agriculture and it is called the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies that spend the hours looking at these details and making those decisions. I put my trust in them, on the first part because I am one, but I do not quarrel at all with the gentleman

who chooses to say that we have not done our jobs properly.

Let me read this letter:

The American Farm Bureau Federation is aware of a long list of amendments to be offered to H.R. 1906. In addition to the letter sent this morning, we are deeply concerned about these amendments and the approach being taken against general agriculture programs.

Specifically, we are opposed to amendments that would prohibit funding to promote the sale or export of tobacco, decrease spending for the APHIS Boll Weevil Program and effectively eliminate the Boll Weevil Eradication Program. We oppose any cut in funding for agricultural research programs for wool, cotton, shrimp aquaculture, blueberries, specialty crops or precision agriculture. We oppose any attempts to decrease funding for agriculture market analysis, promotion and rural development.

Further, we oppose cuts in funding for conservation programs, the peanut price support loan rate and any reductions in research or other cuts to peanut support programs. We also oppose any attempts to effectively eliminate any international or domestic marketing programs.

Farm Bureau has worked closely with the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and supports the bill as reported by the committee.

This is our largest farm organization that has looked at the work of the gentlewoman and the gentleman and others in saying, in their judgment, we cannot make these cuts without doing harm. Again, I specifically have objected to the previous two amendments and to this amendment for the reasons that were specified before, in pointing out that if we are going to be critical of inefficient operation in USDA, if we are going to be critical of those ``who have not been able to do their job,'' quote-unquote,

then how do we justify coming in and saying we are going to deny them the tools to bring them into the modern century of technology which is what the committee suggested be done?

That is the simple question. It deserves a simple ``no'' vote on the amendment.

7:41 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK 2nd

Mr. COBURN. Again, I want to be clear about what we are doing. We are cutting nothing. What we are saying is we are holding to last year's level.

I understand the Farm Bureau. I have worked with them a great amount. A large number of the people who supported me to come here are from that organization.

But I would also say that there probably would not be anything that they would probably say was a good idea to cut out of this bill, because that is not what they are set up to do. They are set up to make sure that their members are protected in this bill.

I just wanted to state, and I thank the gentleman for being so kind as to yield to me, there is not a cut in the bill. It is the old Medicare scam cut, hold spending or cut. What we are saying is, let us not increase the administrative overhead that has been proposed in the bill.

7:45 PM EDT

Bernie Sanders, I-VT

Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Chairman, I just want to ask the gentleman one simple question.

He mentioned that there is nothing wrong with going over this line by line, dollar by dollar, and that is not bad.

Would the gentleman move now to abolish the committee system of the United States House of Representatives?

Why are we wasting our time with 13 committees?

They hold hearings, and they have all these experts coming together, and let me finish.

7:46 PM EDT

Bernie Sanders, I-VT

Mr. SANDERS. True. But I have never offered 125 amendments, and as independent as I am, I think the committee process is a reasonable process. We have got 435 people. In all fairness, in all fairness, the gentleman does not think he knows all aspects of that bill.

The gentleman never sat on the committee, nor have I, and I think it is totally reasonable.

I have two amendments that I am offering. The gentleman may have some amendments. But basically really what he is saying is, ``If you're supporting the concept of bringing 125 amendments up,'' what the gentleman is saying is, ``Let's junk the committee.''