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Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

The Democratic leadership would be out of step in a one-man parade: Mixup negates House override of farm bill veto

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House overwhelmingly rejected President Bush’s veto of a $290 billion farm bill Wednesday, but what was to have been a stinging defeat for the president became an embarrassing episode for Democrats.

Only hours before the House’s 316-108 vote, Bush had vetoed the five-year measure, saying it was too expensive and gave too much money to wealthy farmers when farm incomes are high. The Senate then was expected to follow suit quickly.

Action stalled, however, after the discovery that Congress had omitted a 34-page section of the bill when lawmakers sent the massive measure to the White House. That means Bush vetoed a different bill from the one Congress passed, leaving leaders scrambling to figure out whether it could become law.

Democrats hoped to pass the entire bill, again, on Thursday under expedited rules usually reserved for unopposed legislation. Lawmakers also probably will have to pass an extension of current farm law, which expires Friday.

“We will have to repass the whole thing, as will the Senate,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y. “We can’t let the farm bill just die.”

Is there no one designated to check these issues? Do any of these people or their staff read the laws they vote on? What would have happened if the Shrubbery signed it into law?

This is basic stuff, not string theory – how many pages should be there compared to how many pages are there. This is arithmetic, grade school level arithmetic.


1 hipparchia { 05.22.08 at 2:48 am }

the PDF is 628 pages at the gpo, 673 pages here [looks like maybe the house agriculture committee copy].

i finally gave up on following the farm bill this time around, but while there were some good provisions added, there were [last i checked] some significant cuts in food aid for the poor/elderly, big subsidies to wealthy farmers/big ag left in, and not-too-great conservation incentives.

i’m not sure what it is about the bill that bush objects to, because i’m having a hard time believing that he’s telling the truth about his feelings on subsidies for the rich. always before, he’s been in favor of trickle-up redistribution.

2 Kryten42 { 05.22.08 at 4:16 am }

There was probably something in the missing pages he expected and wanted. 😉

Easer to check 34 pages than 673. 🙂


3 Steve Bates { 05.22.08 at 9:47 am }

What fools. Don’t they know they can change the text of a bill after it has been passed by both houses? They need to take lessons from Don Young.

Seriously, was it carelessness or skulduggery? I’m not willing to bet either way.

4 Steve Bates { 05.22.08 at 9:51 am }

OT, why do some links in comments show up only on hover, while others are visibly underlined or shaded? There’s a link in the above comment, but you’d never know it by looking at it.

5 Bryan { 05.22.08 at 11:18 am }

OT: Visited links are highlighted by shading which disappears in the shading of even numbered comments. Unvisited links are blue and underlined. It is something that I keep meaning to change in the CSS.

Actually, Kryten, I think there were some benefits to non-GOP causes in the bill and it may have lacked sufficient tax cuts for oil companies. With the Shrubbery, it could have been the font chosen, who knows.

I would bet on skulduggery. Many of Clinton’s problems were caused because he didn’t “clean house” when he came into office, and left a lot of partisan people in important positions.

That just shows that the problem isn’t beyond reach for people who are actually paid to track these bills, Hipparchia, when you can take the time from your day and find that large of a discrepancy with a ‘Net search. These things are on Congress’s network, and checking file size would have shown a major divergence.

I guess they need a checklist, to remind them how to do this. Maybe a big board with colored pens that were a feature in the lower grades to remind the kids of things they needed to do. We could start out with a kindergarten teacher, and then escalate to a teaching nun with a metal ruler if things didn’t improve.

6 Steve Bates { 05.22.08 at 10:42 pm }

Highfalutin’ medical journals use software to track each paper in every issue through every stage from receipt of submission through repeated editing through publication. (I presume most publications do that now; I just happen to know several medical editors.) Doesn’t Congress have something similar? The systems I know require someone to sign off at each stage. Someone really should get burned for this omission.

7 Bryan { 05.22.08 at 11:09 pm }

Steve, I don’t know of a group of any size that is involved in document preparation that doesn’t use version control of some kind or another. Marking up a law is exactly the sort of thing that version control is all about. As near as I have been able to determine, they did the equivalent of leaving out a chapter of a book.

The normal structure is Law, Title, Section, Paragraph. This should have been found by a quick check of the table of contents. They left out one of the Titles, not a few dozen pages at random, but an entire Title.

8 Kryten42 { 05.23.08 at 1:14 am }

Well, it was either this Admin’s standard incompetence and carelessness (and that includes Congress and the Senate), or it was done purposely. *shrug* We’ll probably never know.

9 Bryan { 05.23.08 at 10:00 am }

It was a screw-up, the missing Title was not controversial, but I would triple check it before the next vote to be sure nothing extra was added in the interim.