Top GOP Leaders Consider Splitting Farm Bill Up Despite Lucas Warnings

June 27, 2013 09:17 AM
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Agency to make the call after analyzing the June Acreage data

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

On Wednesday I revealed that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) favored a farm bill be just that – farm program language, which accounts for around 20 percent of the baseline funding. And another separate route for the other 80 percent, food and nutrition spending, namely food stamps/SNAP. Today comes word that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is also considering the possible maneuver.

Lucas has repeatedly said neither bill could pass on its own, so if separate votes do occur, his warning will be tested and if either or both pass, it would be another nick following the surprising defeat last week of the farm bill on the House floor, albeit a debate tinged with partisan politics.

Cantor reportedly favors a farm bill approach geared to attract 218 Republicans, due to a lack of faith that Democratic members will deliver enough to any votes.

Could farm bill chance of passage increase? The solo approach for a farm bill, sans controversial food stamp funding and other language, could actually increase the chances of a “pure” farm bill seeing the House chamber end zone, some say, despite Lucas' observation.

Lucas has other, strong views. Lucas, who has been very talkative since the disastrous vote, told the Oklahoma Farm Report that neither of the two bills could pass alone, and that he says that is the aim of activist groups pushing the strategy. "When you look at the so-called political activist groups on the East Coast, the paid mercenaries, they don’t want a farm bill, and that’s why they advocate these things. This is the best way to kill a farm safety net is split us up, chop us up and cause us to wilt and die.”

Meanwhile, Boehner said today that there have been “a lot of conversations about the farm bill” but no final decisions. A GOP leadership source said a decision has been made to “find a way to get this farm bill to conference” with the Senate “and do it before the August recess.”

Comments: What no one is mentioning at the moment is how any such solo farm bill would impact a “farm bill” House-Senate conference, because the Senate bill includes food stamp funding, which the bill reduces by only $4 billion over ten years, far below the $20.5 billion contained in the defeated House farm bill. But history shows conferees can be very creative and that a deal could be brokered between the two parties (and especially the leaders of the two parties because that appears to be what is currently happening) to put food and nutrition spending (and an agreed on budget cut for food stamps) in a final farm bill conference report. One congressional source called this potential strategy “our version of congressional algebra – we just assume something later....”

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






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