House Farm Bill Update: June 13, 2013

June 13, 2013 12:25 AM

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Boehner supports farm bill | Peterson ups number of Democratic votes | Lucas says House debate next week | Vilsack comments

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

Some important House farm bill developments have occurred recently, including...

-- Boehner says he supports House farm bill. In a major development on Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that he will vote for the House farm bill despite having some "concerns" about legislation that is expected to see floor action by the July Fourth recess. "Doing nothing means we get no changes in the nutrition programs, and as a result, I'm going to vote for a farm bill to make sure that the good work of the Agriculture Committee ... gets to a conference," Boehner said at a press conference. The Senate passed its version of the farm bill on Monday. It’s rare for a speaker to cast a vote on legislation, and even rarer for this speaker, who acknowledged earlier this week that he has not traditionally supported farm programs contained in the farm bill. Boehner and the GOP leadership is under pressure from fiscal conservatives to make deeper cuts to food stamps and payments to producers. While the Senate bill would cut $4 billion from food stamps/SNAP over a decade, the House’s bill would currently cut $20.5 billion — a number many House Democrats reject as way too much and some House Republicans say is not enough. Boehner particularly opposes the supply-management component of a proposed new dairy program. In response to Boehner saying that he will support the House farm bill when it reaches the floor, Heritage Action announced new radio ads in the districts of three GOP members: Mike Conaway of Texas, Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania, and Austin Scott of Georgia. Heritage Action is strongly opposed to the food-stamp spending included in the legislation, will also continue airing ads against its four original targets: Reps. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Martha Roby, (R-Ala.) and Frank Lucas (R-Okla.).

-- Peterson counts 50 Democrats in favor of farm bill. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), ranking member on the House Agriculture committee, predicted the bill would get 50 Democratic votes on final passage. That would mean that fewer than 170 of the House’s 234 Republicans would be needed to pass the bill. "I get the sense that people want this done," Peterson said.

-- Lucas more upbeat on farm bill prospects, says House floor debate next week. House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas was also upbeat after meeting Wednesday afternoon with House Republican colleagues. "I think the wind is to the back of the Ag committee," Lucas said, according to CQ Roll Call. "Things are trending in our direction. And remember, I’ve been a little bit twitchy and cautious over the last few weeks. I’m more enthusiastic than I’ve been in a while." Lucas, speaking to the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives Wednesday, said he expects the farm bill to come up on the House floor next week. He expressed his hope that around Monday the Rules Committee would put out a call for amendments – which he expects could number in the hundreds. Then on Tuesday, Lucas hopes the Rules Committee will sort through the amendments, and limit the number of amendments on each subject. Lucas believes the House will likely vote on 30 to 40 amendments covering every area – including food stamps, sugar, dairy, conservation and crop insurance. Lucas said once the conference report comes to the House and Senate, it will not be subject to amendment. There will be up or down votes with a majority in each body required for passage.

-- House should act on farm bill: USDA’s Vilsack. Even though the farm bill approved by the House Ag Committee has $20.5 billion in reductions for nutrition programs, a level that is "unacceptable," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack called for House action on the bill. "A $20 billion reduction… is unacceptable and I think at the end of the day that is not what is going to be in the bill," Vilsack told the Washington publication Politico. "But at this point in time, we just want to get the bill through the House." Vilsack also acknowledged it is not his role to tell lawmakers how to vote. But he told Politico what is important at this point is "for us to move forward and to do that, certainly in rural America, we need the certainty of a five-year program." Nutrition cuts in the bill remain a major issue given the Senate reduction in their bill was only $4 billion over 10 years.


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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