November 14, 2019

Rules Committee Tonight on the Farm Bill

Categories: Farm Bill

On Wednesday evening, the House Rules Committee tweeted that, “Rules mtg tonight at 9pm on H.R. 2642 – Federal Agriculture Reform & Risk Management Act of 2013 (Farm Bill) 

Several articles on Wednesday documented Farm Bill developments prior to the Rules Committee announcement, below is a summary of some of these articles from today.

Erik Wasson reported this morning at The Hill’s On the Money Blog that, “A plan backed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and other House GOP leaders to split the farm bill into two pieces is facing a setback.

“A split farm bill was anticipated to come before the Rules Committee as early as Wednesday, but there is now no sign that this is happening.

A House GOP whip count on Tuesday on a farm subsidy bill without food stamp funding came up short of the 218 votes needed for passage, sources said. However, a GOP aide said the official count was still taking place and no final decision on a vote has been made.”

Reuters writer Charles Abbott reported this afternoon that, “Republican leaders in the House of Representative hit a dead end on Wednesday in an effort to revive the $500 billion, five-year U.S. farm bill, increasing the likelihood that Congress will opt for a second extension of current law.”

Mr. Abbott explained that, “Farm lobbyists said Republican House leaders may try to build support for another attempt at a split bill. Alternately, they could re-tool the defeated bill and present it for a vote. An extension of current law was a third option.

“Two prominent conservative groups, the Club for Growth and Heritage Action, came out this week against the subsidy bill because no amendments would be allowed.

“‘It is still loaded down with market-distorting giveaways to special interests with no path established to remove the government’s involvement in the agriculture industry,’ Club for Growth, a group that favors limited government, said in a blog post on Wednesday.”

The Reuters article pointed out that, “Club for Growth said it would include the bill in its scorecard on whether lawmakers were fiscally conservative enough to deserve re-election.”

“‘I don’t think they have the votes for that alternative,’ Assistant Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said of the split bill. Hoyer said Republican leaders remain unwilling to compromise with Democrats.”

And Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips indicated today that, “Even without food stamp spending, the proposed bill still costs taxpayers $195 billion for farm subsidies. Expenditures of this scale deserve proper scrutiny and a full amendment process. It would be hypocritical to oppose uncontrolled food stamp spending but support corporate welfare with no meaningful reforms. Splitting this bill is a good first step, but perpetuating the status quo is unacceptable.”

Greg Sargent noted this evening at The Plum Line Blog (Washington Post) that, “What’s puzzling to Democratic aides about all this is that there is no hint of a desire on Republicans’ part to revisit whether there is any way to work with Democrats to get more of them on board to support the bill. This, after Republicans blamed Dems for failing to provide the margin of votes necessary to overcome the House GOP’s inability to win over enough conservatives to pass it — even with massive concessions to them.”

In a separate update this evening, Hill writer Erik Wasson reported that, “After a 6 pm vote series, the whip team led by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was still searching for the votes needed to pass a farm bill with food stamp funding stripped out.

“‘There are more votes tonight and more chances for leadership to visit with members,’ House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said after trying to avoid reporters.  Votes are scheduled to last until 10 pm.

“‘I think that the whip’s organization is working this with great intensity. I expect when they have the appropriate or necessary number we’ll all learn together. And we’ll go to the next step,’ he said. “

Mr. Wasson noted that, “Lucas said that he has a bill prepared to go to the Rules Committee and sources said that Rules was on standby Wednesday evening to move on it.”

The Hill update added that, “Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said leaders are feeling heat from rural Republican lawmakers.

“‘We have to have a farm bill done. We don’t want to send farm state members back home for August without a farm bill,’ he said. ‘If this doesn’t work, they’ll come back next week and try something else.’”

Today’s update noted that, “[Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas)] expressed frustration at the American Farm Bureau opposition.

“‘For the American Farm Bureau to weigh in without a rational is troubling and confusing a lot of our members,’ he said.

He said that the combination of Club for Growth and American Farm Bureau opposition was making it tough.”

The Hill article also quoted Rep. Conaway as saying: “I don’t think our conference would stand for eliminating the work requirement for the SNAP problem.”

Meanwhile, Dar Danielson reported today at Radio Iowa Online that, “[Rep. Bruce Braley (D., Iowa)] says there are questions about whether there are enough votes to pass the split bill in the House, and how the bill would then move forward. ‘But assuming they were to pass something, then it would still be up to the speaker to determine whether he sends that to the Senate for a conference committee and totally ignores the SNAP program that wasn’t addressed in the house. And then what would happen if they appointed conferees to deal with two bills that are so dramatically different in nature,’ Braley says.”

Keith Good

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