Farm bill: can Ron Kind foil the interests?

It may pass the notice of some in the lefty sphere; but there's politics suppurating from every pore of legislative process, if only you can recognize it when you see it.

As witness the Ron Kind motion to recommit to conferees of HR 2464 (107th), that I discussed earlier today.

Had it not been for the piece from Dan Owens to which that was a comment, I'd have continued in ignorance of the story. As it is - I've had the tip.

Now, HR 2464 is the reauthorization of the Agricultural Act of 1949 which will sunset at the end of FY07 (ie September 30 2007), from which point the farm bill as currently being processed is supposed to take over.

The forces of agribusiness are pretty much lined up as in 2002; their lackeys in Ag have displayed their nethers, baboon-like, to their lords and masters by voting down Kind's 07 offering nem con. (Kind isn't a member of Ag. Someone presumably had to offer the text as an amendment, and then vote against it. Ain't politics grand?)

(Included in the Ag roster is lefty heartthrob Kirsten Gillibrand and Sally Jo Sorensen's rep Tim Walz. Quite what part they played in this, I know not.)

Now, the vote on the 2002 motion to recommit needs some serious parsing, involving shlepping through the Record, more spreadsheeting - in a word, work.

What will we - OK, I - be looking for? Ag members, for a start. I make the current strength of Ag as being 45 members. Who, of the 2002 committee, voted for the MTR?

Then, non-Ag members: my hunch is that committee seniority played as much in determining the vote on the MTR as the weight of ag political influence in the districts of reps voting yea and nay. Why else would Rangel and Conyers have voted against?

On the other side, we have the GOP who voted for the MTR.

This is a classic case where polisci folk would steer clear - there are no regression models to deploy, it's all very messy and the evidence is difficult to unearth, analyze  draw conclusions from.

What juices the exercise is the fact that Kind will be mounting his charger once more, and enemies of corporate welfare and lovers of nature and good food will be drutherful that the fat cats and their legislative fluffers will get a nasty shock.

Looking more broadly, I wonder whether Kind might find allies in reps indifferent to the subject-matter of his text, but wanting to show their displeasure at the business as usual of committee life; or at the aristocracy of the old bulls enjoying an ego-inflating last hurrah.

And, at the apex, perches the Lioness: she voted for the Kind MTR in 2002, and we know there's at least one old bull she'd like to see heading for the last roundup. (That's Dingell I'm thinking of.)

But - she can't be keen on an insurgency emerging on as important a bill as the farm bill; or at all. (Once an insurgency has - surged - it's all the more difficult to hold it in check next time out.)

There are other dimensions to consider, too: Peterson (who seems just a tad abrasive) is the only Blue Dog to chair a decent committee. (Or any committee - can't remember.) Are Dogs liable to rally round him against Kind, even those who think farm welfare is a racket? (Perhaps there aren't any Dogs in that category, though.)

On the other side, is this an opportunity for the Progs (urban districts, conservation-minded) to form a broad coalition behind a proposition they must pretty much all approve of?

There's also a need to trace the remnants of the 2002 House: how many of the 85 Dems who voted against the MTR remain in the House, for instance?  

Obviously, I'm assuming that Kind will crash and burn. And that - if, by some miracle, Kind passes, it will be stricken in conference. (I'm not predicting that - I'm not sure what might come out of the Senate, for one thing.)

It's the politics beyond the farm bill that really interests me: what with Iraq taking up so much floor time, there's so far been a sense of the 110th milling about, without the leaderships calling for movement in any particular direction.

It sounds to me (early days) that the Kind text would be something that a progressive-led House coalition might make something of: as a practical test (things like whipping and parliamentary tactics) and a message of hope to the wider lefty community that they have some fight in them and can deploy their forces to good (if not victorious) effect.

Tags: farm bill, Ron Kind FARM21 Proposals, Ron Kind Motion to Recommit HR 2464 (107th) (all tags)

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