WASHINGTON – President Bush on Wednesday vetoed a $290 billion farm bill for a second time, sending it back to Congress after a printing error threatened the delivery of U.S. food aid abroad.
Most of the bill was enacted in May, when both the House and Senate easily overrode Bush’s first veto of the legislation. But 34 pages of the bill that would extend foreign aid programs were mistakenly missing from the parchment copy Congress sent the White House, so that section has not yet become law.
To ensure the aid continues amid a global hunger crisis — and to prevent future legal challenges — Congress and Bush are again passing, vetoing and enacting the entire bill to provide farm subsidies, food stamps and other nutrition programs over the next five years.
The mistake delayed shipments of food to Ethiopia, Myanmar and Somalia, said Stephen Driesler, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s deputy assistant administrator for legislative and public affairs.
“We have orders ready to go,” Driesler said Wednesday.
Both chambers should easily come up with the two-thirds majorities needed to override the second veto. The Senate passed the bill 77-15, and the House passed it 306-110.
Both the House and Senate were expected to take up the veto override Wednesday.
Bush contends the legislation, which extends agriculture and nutrition programs, is too expensive and too generous with subsidies for farmers. He opposed the legislation from the start and began threatening to veto it last July.
He said Congress missed an opportunity to make the bill better when it was passed a second time.
“For a year and a half, I have consistently asked that the Congress pass a good farm bill that I can sign,” Bush said in his veto message. “Regrettably, the Congress has failed to do so. At a time of high food prices and record farm income, this bill lacks program reform and fiscal discipline.”
About two-thirds of the farm law pays for domestic nutrition programs such as food stamps, which will see increases of around $1 billion a year. About $40 billion is for farm subsidies, and almost $30 billion will go to farmers to protect environmentally sensitive farmland.
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