Peterson Talks House Farm Bill Strategy

August 30, 2013 02:17 AM

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Others say that despite reports, no firm plan for farm bill in the House

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The farm bill saga continues, with conflicting reports surfacing on the House farm and food nutrition bill strategy ahead.

In steps Peterson. House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) was a guest Thursday on the Valley News Live (Fargo, N.D.) Point of View television program with Chris Berg, who asked Peterson: ..."Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, was in Williston, North Dakota with Congressman Kevin Cramer. He said Speaker of the House John Boehner will appoint members of a conference committee on the farm bill in September after passing a bill dealing with food stamps. So obviously with your experience, your expertise and what you’re hearing from you colleagues, is that going to happen?"

Peterson responded, "Yes. Boehner told me and Lucas, the chairman, right before we left, that they were going to vote on food stamps and then no matter what happens on that vote — and they weren’t sure if they can pass it — he’s going to appoint conferees right afterwards. And then he said to us I want this done by September 30th, so he wants the bill done. Boehner has never been the problem. Cantor has been kind of playing ball with the Club for Growth and the Heritage people that want to cut food stamps, but in addition, they also want to get rid of farm programs, and that’s the main reason they wanted to split this, is that they don’t think they can get rid of farm programs or significantly cut them unless they split it off from food stamps, because you’ve got some of the Democrats voting with us on the farm programs, so this has been going on."

Peterson said he disagreed with what Cantor is doing. "I think he is making our job a lot harder. This vote that they’re having on food stamps is, I think, going to alienate people that are potentially going to be needed to pass the bill in the end. But he’s the Majority Leader and he’s doing what he’s doing, and I’m going to work with him to try to get this done. And I told Boehner, you go down this road, I think it’s going to be very difficult at the end of the day to get the votes to pass this thing. We can get to conference. But I’ve been in the room with Senator [Debbie\ Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Senator [Thad] Cochran (R-Miss.), who’s the head Republican. And Cochran’s position is he wants no cuts in food stamps, zero. The Republican in the Senate. And I’ve sat in the room, and they’re not going to go anywhere near even $20 billion. So, you know, this is not helping get this done. And so I’m just hoping that cooler heads can prevail and somehow or another in September Boehner might be in a position to be a little more forceful to help us."

Peterson added that, "I think we’re going to get a bill out of conference that maybe has $10 billion cuts in food stamps at the most. The question at that point then is how many Republicans will vote for that? And so say, you know, we can probably get 150 Democrats, potentially, but 75 Republicans, can Boehner put that on the floor?"

Meanwhile, despite reports, some say no firm plan for farm bill in the House. Aides to House Republican leaders said Wednesday that they are still considering how to proceed with legislation establishing federal farm and food aid policy after news reports suggested that top leadership had settled on a strategy. During a stop in North Dakota on Wednesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said that he still expected the House to take up the food stamp portion of the legislation and that it "will reflect the reform agenda that we’ve been about in the nutrition program." Local news reports said that Cantor said the House would pass the food stamp portion of the legislation in September and that House GOP leaders would then appoint members of a conference committee to negotiate a final version of the bill with the Senate. The Washington Post reported that when asked for clarification, "Cantor aides said the local news reports incorrectly characterized the leader’s plans." The article noted that "Leadership’s intentions appear to conflict with comments made by Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who in an interview Wednesday suggested that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Cantor would appoint conferees to negotiate with the Senate ‘whether we pass the nutrition piece or don’t pass the nutrition piece." Link to Washington Post item.

Comments: This may simply be misreporting my some, and searching for news by others. We've waited at least three years for the farm bill saga to end, so we certainly can wait a few more weeks to see how the bewildering process unfolds when lawmakers finally return to work from their long summer recess.



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






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