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Farm Bill Amendment Would Require Waiver for U.S. Food Aid to North Korea

June 20, 2012

On Wednesday, the Senate adopted by a vote of 59 to 40 an amendment to S. 3240, the Farm Bill, which would prohibit the provision of aid to North Korea under title II of the Food for Peace Act unless authorized by a presidential waiver certifying to Congress that such aid is in the national interest of the United States. The Farm Bill directs policy for five years, through 2017.

The amendment, sponsored by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), was offered as a competing amendment to one sponsored by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), which would have prohibited the use of title II funding for North Korea, but would not have included a Presidential waiver. Senator Kyl's amendment was defeated by a vote of 43-56.

The U.S. Agency for International Development's website says that title II funding “authorizes the vast majority of U.S. international food assistance.” The Farm Bill is expected to pass the Senate later this week.

The House has yet to move ahead with its version of the legislation, although it is likely that a House version may be introduced in the near future, which would lead to the two bills being reconciled in a conference committee. 

In June 2011 Representative Ed Royce sponsored an identical amendment prohibiting title II food aid to North Korea (without a waiver) in the House version of H.R. 2112, an omnibus spending bill. The amendment was adopted in the House, but was not included in the Senate version.  Language was adopted in conference to make the U.S. provision of food aid contingent on adequate monitoring.