President Bush set to fail over Farm Bill

US president George Bush looks likely to be thwarted in his attempts to block a new Farm Bill, passed last week by the full US Congress.

Following the initial agreement by the House of Representatives’ and the Senate’s negotiators on 8 May, President Bush said he was “deeply disappointed” in the details of the new Farm Bill and would veto it.

In particular, the fact that farm spending was set to increase by $20bn (£10bn) at a time when farm incomes were at record levels was “irresponsible”, he said.

But, under US legislation, Congress can override a Presidential veto if both the House and the Senate can muster two-thirds majorities in favour of the new Farm Bill. And that now looks certain to be the outcome.

Both the House and the Senate voted on the package last Thursday (15 May), with the House approving it by 318 votes to 106. That is equivalent to a 75% majority.

The Senate approved it even more convincingly with an 81% majority.

Speaking after the historic vote, House agriculture committee chairman Collin Peterson said the new bill was good for both urban and rural communities. “It will help working American families struggling with high food prices and will ensure that our farmers and ranchers can continue to provide a safe, abundant, home-grown supply of food and fibre.”

The new Farm Bill – to be called the Food, Conservation and Energy Act – will still go to the White House for consideration, probably this week. But it now seems certain the President has lost the battle to achieve a more reformist policy.