Congress Faces Glitch with Farm Bill
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.
It was going to be a sweet Congressional victory over President Bush, as lawmakers overrode his veto of the mammoth farm bill. The bill includes $300 billion worth of crop subsidies and nutrition programs for the poor. But a technical snafu has thrown things into legislative limbo. Today, the Senate joined the House and voted to override the veto, while the House leaders did some explaining about how the document the president vetoed ended up missing an entire 34-page section.
NPR's Debbie Elliott has more.
DEBBIE ELLIOTT: Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took responsibility for the mistake apparently made when a clerk printed the farm bill on the official parchment on which Congress sends legislation to the president. Pelosi's reaction upon learning that the trade section of the bill was missing...
Representative NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, California; Speaker of the House): Uncustomarily crude.
(Soundbite of laughter)
ELLIOTT: Before reporters could speculate on what four-letter word the otherwise genteel speaker may have uttered, House Republicans were painting the Democratic leadership as incompetent.
Minority leader John Boehner.
Representative JOHN BOEHNER (Republican, Ohio; Minority Leader, House of Representatives): How can a speaker and president pro tem certify that this bill was passed by House and Senate when it isn't the bill that passed the House and Senate?
ELLIOTT: Boehner tried unsuccessfully to pass a resolution admonishing Democratic leaders and calling for an ethics probe.
Rep. BOEHNER: This is no way to legislate. This is the Congress of the United States. We're the beacon of hope and opportunity and democracy all around the world, and they're treating this like a bunch of kids in a tree house.
ELLIOTT: He wasn't the only one crying child's play.
Representative STENY HOYER (Democratic, Maryland; Majority Leader, House of Representatives): The American public expects us to act as adults, not simply as partisan protagonists.
ELLIOTT: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
Rep. HOYER: To conduct business, not withstanding the fact because we are humans, and those who work for us are humans, and are under great stress. They have to work around the clock, they work 15-hour days, sometimes longer days, and we expect them to act without ever making a mistake. That is unreasonable.
ELLIOTT: To cover the mistake, it was deja vu. The House debated and voted for a second time on the entire farm bill and sent it to the Senate. So, after nearly a year of negotiations, a veto and a rare override vote, we still have not heard the last of the farm bill.
Debbie Elliott, NPR News, the Capitol.