Farm Bill Negotiations to Continue Into September As Expiration Looms
Sen. Jeff Flake in a colloquy before lawmakers adjourned for their August recess helped Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow lay down her markers for shaping a final farm bill, or, failing that, another extension of the 2008 farm bill, by questioning continued payments for cotton farmers.
Since 2011, Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., have persisted in trying to deliver a final farm bill. They’ve gotten farther this year than in the past toward that goal, but they will enter September with no guarantee of success and only nine legislative days in the House before the expiration of the current farm bill extension on Sept. 30
The path to a conference committee on the Senate bill (S 954) and the House agriculture-only bill may be complicated if House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., brings a revised farm bill nutrition title to the floor that cuts up to $40 billion over 10 years from the nation’s largest domestic food aid program.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters she is not confident about the farm bill’s future if Republicans offer the new nutrition bill.
“To put their members on record as supporting $40 billion in cuts, that really makes the path back the harder one for the farm bill,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “What comes back would have to have strong bipartisan support, and can they produce any votes on their side that doesn’t cut [so much]?”
Even Stabenow, who excels in projecting optimism whenever she discusses the farm bill, called the possible nutrition bill “one more road block.” She said the possible new nutrition bill could “put us in a situation where it’s going to make it harder to get a farm bill done.”
But she pushed ahead with her talk on the floor with Flake, to which she had agreed in order to win support last month for a unanimous consent to send the House a request to go to conference committee.
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