Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
With several bills awaiting action in Congress including an attempt to override a presidential veto on the State Childrens Insurance Program Montana’s Rep. Denny Rehberg said Friday he is irritated with delays in the Senate and wi th the new Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives. “We’re really frustrated with (Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi. She had promised it was going to get better and it’s just gotten worse,” Rehberg said. “ (The Republican leadership was) charged with being a do-nothing Congress. Well, this one is setting new records.” Rehberg said that while some bills are “languising” in the Senate, like the Farm Bill, others that have passed both the House and the Senate and that President Bush has said he would sign could be sent to the president’s desk, but Rep. Pelosi, D-Calif., has not scheduled conference committees to allow differences in the House and Senate versions to be resolved. One specific bill he mentioned was one with funding to improve the quality of life for people in the military. “It directly affects the quality of life in our military,” Rehberg said. “Bush said he would sign it, but we can even get a conference committee to resolve the differences.” Nadeam Elshami, spokesman for Pelosi, said the work in the House has also mostly been bipartisan work that has been sent to the President for his signature. “You also have to look at what is happening in the Senate,” Elshami said. Part of the delay is preconference negotiations that need to take place to smooth the work in the conference committees, he said, adding that another issue is President Bush’s indication he will veto some of the bills. That increases the need to build bipartisan support before the bill is finalized and to address Bush’s concerns, Elshami said. Farm Bill Rehberg said another irritation for him is the delay in the Senate passing the Farm Bill. The House passed a bill that will bring a lot of help to Montana agricultural producers, he said, and he wants that implemented rather than just extending the previous Farm Bill until the new one is passed. “The ag committee in the Senate is not getting their work done,” Rehberg said. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., a member of the ag committee and the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said the ag committee is working to implement programs that will benefit Montana farmers before the bill goes before the full Senate for a vote. “Agriculture is the backbone of our state, and I want to make sure the Farm Bill is right for producers in Hill County and for producers across Big Sky Country,” Baucus said. Baucus wrote an ag tax package to be included in the Senate version of The Farm Bill, including creating a permanent disaster relief trust fund to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers affected by natural disasters such as drought. Other parts of the package include an option for ag producers to receive tax credits for implementing land conservation practices instead of receiving a cash payment, which also will help free up funds for use in the Farm Bill, Baucus said. It also includes tax incentives to encourage ag producers to use wind energy and to grow crops used for ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels. The package also includes developing a new category of tax-advantaged bonds to use for rural economic development such as rural electric, telemedicine and rural broadband Internet projects. CHIP Montana’s representative and senators are working to gain support in the House for overriding Bush’s veto of the CHIP bill which Baucus helped write. The bill passed in the Senate with enough votes to override the veto, but is short in the House. Baucus, who gave a national radio address Saturday about CHIP following Bush’s weekly radio address, said he will continue to fight for the program. “It’s about caring for our children and making sure they have the building blocks to lead successful, healthy lives,” Baucus said. “ I will continue to stand up for Montana’s children and try to get this veto overridden.” In his radio address, Baucus said the CHIP bill was a bipartisan creation, and Democrats and Republicans need to continue to work together to override the veto. “Our new extension of CHIP would increase the number of eligible kids by more than 3 million including 12,000 in my home state of Montana,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine the president telling millions of parents they don’t deserve the same basic care for their kids that the president had for his. But that is exactly what he did. And now it’s up to Congress to come together and override his veto.” Murphy said Tester will join Baucus and Rehberg in trying to find enough votes to override the veto. “It’s about children. It’s about insuring children who need help and deserve it,” Murphy said. “ (Tester) has said the President is out of touch with rural America.” Rehberg, who voted for the CHIP bill in the House, said he will vote to override the veto. “I am trying to get my colleagues to do the same,” he said, adding that it doesn’t look like the attempt will succeed. If that happens, Rehberg said, the House and Senate will have to work on the bill again to try to come up with something Bush will accept or that Congress will support enough to override a veto. WRDA Bush has also indicated he will veto the Water Resources Development Act, which includes authorization of the funding to pay for repairing the St. Mary Diversion which supplies most of the water in the Milk River every year. Murphy said that bill, however, passed by a veto-proof margin in both the House and the Senate, so Congress should be able to override a veto if it does occur. Baucus said the St. Mary diversion system is in desparate need of repairs. “ I’m going to continue to push to make sure the diversion gets the funds it deserves, so folks along the Hi-Line can turn on their tap and get clean water,” he said.