Analysis of House vote and survey
GateHouse News Service surveyed Illinois’ 19 members of U.S. House of Representatives and two U.S. senators on their stances on farm subsidies and the farm bill passed by the House.
Questions, centered on subsidies, were faxed and follow-up calls were made once a week for five weeks. Just seven of the House members answered the survey: Democrats Danny Davis, Jesse Jackson Jr. , Phil Hare and Bobby Rush, and Republicans Ray LaHood, Don Manzullo and Tim Johnson. Senators Barack Obama and Dick Durbin did not respond.
The farm bill that passed the House was a party-line vote. Of the 231 “yes” votes, 212 were from Democrats and just 19 from Republicans.
In Illinois, only two legislators voted counter to form. Johnson, a Republican who represents large farming counties such as McLean, Iroquois, Livingston and Champaign, voted for the farm bill. Bean, a Democrat who represents a suburban Chicago district that includes parts of McHenry, Lake and Cook counties, voted against.
The party line vote is misleading, however. A look at the answers from the seven who did respond for the survey showed the House members agree on the farm bill provisions.
Six of the seven respondents think subsidies should gradually decrease. All seven believe there should be means testing, meaning farming operations above certain sizes should not receive subsidies, and five of the seven believed the subsidies should be given out based both on price and yield.
The fact the vote broke down party lines was procedural. The Democrats attached a rider to the bill calling for a tax increase on foreign direct investment in the United States. Manzullo, who represents manufacturing-heavy towns such as Belvidere, Freeport and Rockford, specifically noted he voted against the bill because of the foreign direct investment provision.
Alex Gary can be reached at the Rockford Register Star.
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