Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Strike section 3102, relating to extension of funding for the market access program.
The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 271, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Chabot) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Ohio.
Ms. FOXX. Mr. Chairman, this amendment is one I've taken to calling the ``Spending Safeguard'' amendment, because it will protect taxpayers in the event CBO predictions relating to the Farm Risk Management Election program are horribly wrong.
This particular program is basically an expansion of overly generous crop insurance subsidies for producers, and it's predicted to cost about $23 billion over 10 years. But it could potentially cost more--much more. That's because the program's costs are linked to high target price estimates that well exceed historical averages. If prices fall, taxpayers will be forced to make up the difference.
As many of us are aware, the 2008 farm bill cost taxpayers 51 percent more than its drafters predicted. None of us, from Members of Congress to the budget wizards at CBO, can predict the future. That is why we must put a safeguard in place to prevent unappropriated spending from eating taxpayers alive.
My amendment will cap spending on this program at 110 percent of CBO predicted levels for the first 5 years in which payments are dispersed--fiscal years 2016 through 2020. If CBO predictions are reasonably accurate, nothing will happen; but if the predictions are horribly wrong, this amendment ensures taxpayers won't be forced to pay for another costly Washington mistake.
This is a simple amendment, but one that I hope will set an important precedent. If Congress creates new mandatory spending programs, it must put a mechanism in place to make sure costs don't spiral out of control. [Page: H3858]
As our national debt approaches $17 trillion, we simply can't afford to create new, open-ended, mandatory spending programs and set them on autopilot.
When I talk to constituents about the Federal budget, nearly all are puzzled by the concept of mandatory spending. Virtually no one of any political stripe can understand the idea of creating a law one year that imposes an unlimited, unchecked, unaccountable lien on the Treasury for all time.
Even with all the handwringing over the discretionary spending reductions called for in sequestration, we all know that, in the end, budgetary problems on the spending side of the ledger will never be resolved until we confront mandatory spending.
My amendment quells all of the uncertainties created by mandatory spending with one beautifully simple proposal that, for the first time in the memory of everyone we've talked to, puts a finite number on an otherwise infinite liability.
To be clear, this amendment applies only to one single provision--the Farm Risk Management Election program. It does not apply to SNAP and will not affect food stamp benefits or other mandatory spending programs in any way.
My amendment will safeguard taxpayers if the Farm Risk Management Election program ends up costing significantly more than advertised, prevent automatic and unappropriated spending under this program from skyrocketing, and set a striking new precedent for fiscal responsibility.
This amendment should pass with broad, bipartisan support, Mr. Chairman. Over the past few days, I've noticed that many of my Democratic colleagues share my concern about the uncertain budgetary impacts of this program. Republicans and Democrats alike should rally around this idea, which simultaneously protects taxpayers and ensures the fiscal viability of this program.
The time has come to put an end to reckless, unchecked, mandatory spending programs in the farm bill. This amendment may make those unaccustomed to the way things are done uncomfortable, but the simple truth is that the way things are done just doesn't work anymore--in fact, it never has.
Congresses of old had no problem creating obligations for future generations to fulfill. Today we have an opportunity to change course, to set things right, to take the first step toward reining in out-of-control mandatory spending. I urge my colleagues to take this step with me and support this amendment.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. CRAWFORD. Mr. Chairman, I also rise respectfully in opposition to the gentlelady's amendment.
My district located in the Mississippi Delta region grows nearly half all rice produced in the United States. This amendment jeopardizes the safety net row crop producers in my district depend on to manage risk and stay in business.
Given the fact that price volatility is the primary risk mid-South farmers face, and the cost of production is extremely high, the Price Loss Coverage program is the only viable option to provide producers adequate protection. Leading experts and ag economists at Texas A&M University show the average cost of production for rice is $14.92 per hundredweight. The $14 per hundredweight reference price established in the FARRM Bill is realistic and will not kick in unless the producer experiences
What is more, CBO projections already take into account the probability of price movements that can impact the overall cost productions of the PLC policy, and U.S. farm policy has come in well under budget projections for at least the last 7 years. This amendment is unnecessary and will do nothing but create more uncertainty for agriculture producers.
The House Agriculture Committee has made a good-faith bipartisan effort [Page: H3859]
to craft a farm bill that reflects a farmer's risk across all regions of the country. This amendment is a step backwards.
With all due respect, I urge my colleagues to oppose the gentlelady's amendment.
Mr. DAVID SCOTT of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Pennsylvania will be postponed.
AMENDMENT NO. 27 OFFERED BY MR.
The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 27 printed in part B of House Report 113-117.