2001 Scorecard Vote
In September the House passed a bill to reauthorize farm programs, including farm conservation programs such as the Wetlands Reserve program. When the Senate took up Senator Harkin's farm bill (S. 1731) in December, opponents attempted to stall the bill by refusing to vote to cut off debate and by offering a number of controversial amendments.
During floor debate on the Harkin farm bill, Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) introduced a broadly-worded amendment that would have given the Secretary of Agriculture new powers to review, and the president sweeping new powers to block, virtually any federal agency proposal that they determined would be "likely to have a significant adverse economic impact on or jeopardize the personal safety of agricultural producers." In the only restriction on this broad exercise of discretion, the president could not block any agency proposal needed to protect public health or national security.
Granting the executive branch such broad and vague mandates would have put at risk virtually every area of the law which currently affects agriculture, including policies and regulations to protect endangered species, clean up rivers and bays, protect wetlands, regulate pesticides, and protect farm workers' health.
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) offered a motion to table (or kill) the Bond amendment. On December 13, 2001 the Senate agreed to the Reid motion by a vote of 54 to 43 (Senate roll call vote 365). YES on the Reid motion to table is the pro-environment vote. The Senate failed to pass S. 1731 before adjourning for the year, and will have to take up the legislation when they reconvene in 2002.