On to the House for the Farm Bill

House Ag Leaders may not have the votes yet to pass a farm bill – and getting them could be an uphill battle. Senate farm bill passage later today is not in doubt – the real question now is – what about the House?

Last year – House GOP Leaders said they didn’t have the votes and refused to risk uncomfortable votes before the election. Now – National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says they’ve probably decided they can’t just keep delaying it:
“So there will be at least an effort to count the votes this year. Last year I don’t think there was even a serious effort to try to count the votes.”

Johnson hopes for a strong Senate farm bill vote that will put pressure on the House to act in the next week or so. But House Ag Leaders are still counting votes – and may not have them yet…

“There are some who will likely not say what they will do until they have a chance to amend it in one way or another on the floor. We will see. It is certainly our hope that they will bring it to the floor and work their will.”

To at least get a bill to conference to negotiate big differences – especially on food stamp cuts. But standing in the way is a gaping difference between the left and the right in the House…

“If the House Republicans are saying we don’t want to pass this farm bill because the cuts in nutrition aren’t deep enough and they kill it, the cuts to nutrition go back to zero because its permanently authorized. If the House Democrats say they won’t vote for this because the cuts are too deep, they may be of the view that they’ll just stall a little longer but that stalling strategy runs out after a while.”

Johnson says the bill won’t pass with GOP votes alone – since Tea Party Republicans won’t be satisfied the cuts are enough – forcing leadership to seek the bipartisan rural-urban coalition that traditionally passes farm bills. The big unknown – is the GOP food stamp cut up 4.5-billion from last year’s bill now too high to forge that mix that has made so many farm bills possible.

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