US Senate overrules Bush veto of farm subsidies bill

May 23rd, 2008 - 5:30 am ICT by admin  

Washington, May 23 (DPA) The US Senate Thursday overruled a veto by President George W. Bush, following the lead of the House of Representatives and reinstituted legislation that expands agricultural subsidies in the US. It is only the second time in Bush’s presidency that Congress has been able to overcome White House opposition, and came with the support of many of Bush’s fellow Republicans eager to see the $300-billion farm bill passed.

Bush called the legislation fiscally irresponsible as he vetoed it Wednesday, requiring Congress to approve the measure by a two- thirds majority.

The House overturned his veto only hours later by a vote of 316-108. The Senate followed through Thursday by 82-13.

Only about 90 percent of the bill will actually become law after an embarrassing clerical error meant one of its 15 chapters had been accidentally left out of the legislation sent to the White House last week. The missing chapter will now likely be adopted separately.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats’ leader in the lower chamber, said she took responsibility for the mistake. She admitted her response to hearing of the omission Wednesday had been “uncustomarily crude”.

The legislation includes $10 billion in new money for nutrition programmes and extra food stamps to help the poor amid surging food prices around the world.

It also keeps in place subsidies for ethanol - produced from maize and blamed by some for the food crisis - and increases funding for emerging renewable energy options, including bio-diesel and cellulosic ethanol.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said the new initiatives would “help millions of families afford healthy food” and help wean the US off its dependence on oil.

Bush Wednesday said the legislation increased annual federal spending on agriculture by $20 billion, rewarded already wealthy farmers and threatened international trade negotiations aimed at improving US access to global markets.

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