Republicans are so eager to distance themselves from Bush that even some of the very worst rubber stamps of the past 7 years will do anything to create a faux record to show the voters how they "stood up and opposed Bush." Today, more House Republicans voted to override Bush's veto of the farm bill than voted to sustain their clueless leader. The overall vote to override passed 316-108 with 100 Republicans joined the Democrats to finally stand up to the despised lame duck. Of course a handful of the most craven and repulsive Blue Dogs stuck with Bush on this-- as with everything-- especially Melissa Bean (IL), Jim Matheson (UT), Jim Cooper (TN), and Jane Harman (CA). The House needs a two-thirds majority to override a veto. They got it-- and more.
Senator Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who heads the Senate Agriculture Committee, explained the bill’s bipartisan popularity shortly after the Senate approved it last week: “This is really a farm bill for everyone.”
Indeed, one could argue that the term “farm bill” is a stretch. Although it contains billions of dollars in subsidies for farmers, the five-year package provides far more money for nutrition programs like food stamps, and for land conservation and alternative-fuel programs.
Before Wednesday, only one of Mr. Bush’s vetoes had been overridden. Last November, Congress approved a $23.2 billion water-projects measure over his objection. That bill addressed Everglades restoration, flood control in California, hurricane recovery efforts and so many popular projects for individual states that most lawmakers did not want to vote “no.”
Let's hope this is the start of a new trend-- since Bush plans on vetoing everything that comes out of Congress from now 'til the end of his term. Ironically, this isn't a black and white issue and Bush-- although a hypocrite when he denounced subsidizing wealthy farms, his regime's middle name-- is right about some of the reasons the pork-laden bill sucked. But it's a result of compromise that would take a real leader to overcome, something that there is a dearth of among our current governing class. Alan Grayson, the Blue America-endorsed progressive in Orlando may sense the same thing. When I asked him, just now, about rubber stamp incumbent Ric Keller's vote to sustain Bush's veto-- which is generally judged as bad for Florida farmers-- Alan went right to the question of Keller's leadership qualities: "Whenever there is a choice between doing what's right, and doing what President Bush wants, you can be sure what Ric Keller will do."
In case you're counting, here's how the bill breaks down:
- $200 billion- Food stamps and other domestic nutrition programs (66%)
- $43 billion- Subsidies for rice, cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat and other crops (14%)
- $27 billion- Conservation programs to set aside or protect environmentally sensitive farmland (9%)
- $23 billion- Crop insurance (8%)
Among the lunatic fringe Republicans who stuck with Bush-- aside from Ric Keller in Florida-- were members of the rubber stamp brigade like David Dreier (CA), Virginia Foxx (NC), Michelle Bachmann (MN), Scott Garrett (NJ), Frank Wolf (VA), Patrick McHenry (NC), Mean Jean Schmidt (OH), Ken Calvert (CA), Virgil Goode (VA), Charlie Dent (PA), John Shadegg (AZ), Jerry Lewis (CA), Darrell Issa (CA), Dave Reichert (WA), Daniel Lungren (CA), Heather Wilson (NM), Mike Pence (IN), and, as always, Dana Rohrabacher (CA).