WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) voted for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, a two year bill to fund the federal government. While Bustos largely agreed with many positive aspects of the compromise, she strongly pushed back on a provision that would have harmed Illinois farmers.
Yesterday, just hours after the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 was released, Congresswoman Bustos sent a letter to Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi urging them to strip a provision of the bill that would reduce rates of return to crop insurance companies from a gross of about 14.5 percent down to a gross of 8.9 percent. This change would weaken the public-private crop insurance partnership that has worked so well and was just reinforced in the 2014 Farm Bill.
While there was no time to remove the crop insurance provision from the budget bill, Bustos received assurances from House leadership that they have agreed to fix this in the upcoming omnibus bill before any changes take effect.
“Today I voted for the bipartisan budget agreement because it is projected to create 340,000 jobs in 2016 by bringing economic certainty to businesses, will protect millions of seniors from Medicare Part B cost increases and provides significant sequester relief for federal workers like those at the Rock Island Arsenal,” said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos. “I was very concerned by the changes to the crop insurance program in this budget, so I immediately voiced my deep reservations with both the White House and House Leadership. While the provision remains in this bill, I and my colleagues on the Agriculture committee have received assurances that this attack on our agricultural economy will be eliminated before it takes effect in the upcoming Omnibus bill. When farmers succeed, manufacturers such as John Deere and Caterpillar succeed. That’s why I’ll never back down when our family farms are put at risk.”
Provisions of the bill that Bustos supported included:
- Ending crisis to crisis governing in Washington by passing a two year federal budget to provide economic certainty to businesses, both large and small.
- Creating an estimated 340,000 jobs in 2016 alone by spurring economic growth.
- Protecting millions of seniors by preventing a major increase in Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles.
- Breaks the stranglehold of the sequester and achieves equal funding increases for defense and domestic initiatives over the next two years. The agreement secures nearly 90 percent of the sequester relief requested by the President in FY 2016 and 60 percent in FY 2017.
- Preventing a 20 percent cut in disability benefits for millions of individuals at the end of 2016 and extending the solvency of Social Security Disability Insurance.
The bipartisan budget agreement is supported by numerous organizations, including AARP, Alliance for Retired Americans, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Federation of American Hospitals, American College of Physicians, NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Education Association, Committee for Education Funding, League of Conservation Voters, Easter Seals, NDD United, AFL-CIO, and SEIU.
October 27, 2015
Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi:
It has come to my attention that the “Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015” contains a provision that violates our pledge not to reopen the 2014 Farm Bill and would inflict serious injury on America’s farmers and ranchers at a time when net farm income is projected to be down by 53 percent over the past two years.
Section 201 of the bill is widely expected to end Federal Crop Insurance, which is critical to producers and lenders alike.
Specifically, the provision proposes to reduce rates of return to crop insurance companies from a gross of about 14.5 percent down to a gross of 8.9 percent. However, this does not tell the real story. Since 2011 actual returns to companies have averaged about 5 percent, and factoring in costs, the average returns are much closer to zero. The reduction contained in section 201 would kill private sector delivery which is responsible for the success of Federal Crop Insurance.
Not even two years have passed since we made a commitment with the passage of a bipartisan 5-year farm bill that included $23 billion in savings. The current Bipartisan Budget Agreement of 2015 breaks that promise.
Nobody consulted the Agriculture Committees of Congress when this provision was included in the bill, the details of which were not posted until the early morning hours of Tuesday, October 27. Instead, a reckless provision of devastating consequences was quite literally inserted in a backroom in the middle of the night.
I urge you to stand up for farmers and America’s agricultural economy by removing this provision from the bill.
Member of Congress