Quick action by the Professional Insurance Agents Association has helped lead to a pledge from the leadership in both the U.S. House and the Senate to reverse deep cuts to crop insurance that were included in a deal to raise the nation's debt limit. On October 28, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1314, the "Bipartisan Budget Agreement Act." The bill raises the debt ceiling and sets the federal budget for two years. In order to pay for part of it, the deal calls for a severe cut of $3 billion to the federal crop insurance program. Please see PIA National's press release opposing the cuts to crop insurance in the bill. The Senate is currently considering the bill now that it has passed the House.
Once the cuts to crop insurance were announced, PIA activated our grassroots action network. Offices in both the House and Senate were soon completely overwhelmed with calls from PIA agents from all over the country outraged at the proposed cuts and to defend the crop insurance program. Congressional leaders soon got the message and decided to back off from cutting crop insurance. Due to the fast moving process on the budget agreement, and desire to pass this budget deal before Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) took over as Speaker, it was not possible to remove the cuts from the larger budget deal because it would have upended the agreement.
However: House Agriculture committee staff were able to get the House leadership to commit to reverse the cut when Congress takes up the appropriations measure to fund the federal government, which must take place by December 11. Chairman Michael Conaway's (R-TX) press release on this pledge can be found here.
Also, today, October 29 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), during a colloquy on the Senate floor, pledged to work with the House to reverse the cuts to crop insurance when the upcoming federal funding measure is taken up. This colloquy on the Senate floor can be viewed here. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) also noted his determination to reverse these cuts. Other Senators who spoke on the floor about reversing the cuts were Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and John Thune (R-SD). A press release from Chairman Roberts through the Senate Agriculture Committee can be read here.
This is clear proof that both House and Senate leadership heard PIA's voice. This victory shows the power of grassroots advocacy in making a real difference. Without PIA member's many calls to their representatives these cuts would have been made, putting the program at risk.
I am very proud to serve as the Vice President/Treasurer of PIA National and to be associated with the best agency force in the business.