I'm just a bill (with a non-conferenceable Item) on Capitol Hill

Published online: Nov 15, 2013
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Most folks in their 30s probably remember School House Rock! cartoons on Saturday morning, which were designed to teach kids about everything from math and grammar to civics.
And in political circles, the "I'm just a bill" song has achieved iconic status. The video, which explains how legislation evolves from an idea to a law, is beloved for it's simplicity. In it, Congressmen use typewriters to draft their own bills and the House and Senate agree on identical legislative language.
Seems like pure fantasy. Or does it?
Despite all of the bickering and political jockeying this session, both legislative bodies have actually agreed on the same language at least for one item: sugar policy.
It wasn't easy. Big Candy lobbyists spent millions attacking sugar policy at every turn, which amazingly faced five recorded votes during the current farm bill debate.
But each vote turned out the same, leaving U.S. sugar policy in tact and making it a non-conferencable item during the ongoing Conference Committee.
Not surprisingly, School House Rock! left out the parts about well-heeled political critics attacking a bill with misinformation and formal conferences with `round-the-clock negotiations. That stuff is a bit weighty for elementary schoolers on a Saturday morning.
But what is easy to see is that the majority of lawmakers believe it is important that America have a strong sugar policy and not outsource its sugar production.
Now, conferees just need to find agreement on the rest of the farm bill and send an approved compromise to the president's desk to sign into law.
Until then, farmers join the cartoon's main character in singing, "I know I'll be a law someday, at least I hope and pray."