The electoral circuitry to revive the Republican-written House farm bill this week looks like the mechanism of a Rube Goldberg machine. Republican leaders plan floor votes on two immigration bills, neither certain of passage, to generate support among hardline conservatives for the farm bill. A close vote is expected, just like the roll call that sank the bill a month ago.
Roughly 16 months ago, at their first hearing for the 2018 farm bill, Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts and Sen. Debbie Stabenow agreed to write a bipartisan bill that would be enacted on time, a seemingly simple goal that has eluded Congress repeatedly. With a committee vote set for Wednesday on their 1,006-page bill, the two committee leaders say they are on the verge of a major bipartisan victory.
A Trump administration plan to reorganize the federal government would include consolidating food stamps, now run by the USDA, and other social safety net programs at the Department of Health and Human Services, said Politico.
The leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee are treading a surprisingly tortuous path to a bipartisan farm bill that would make no major changes in food stamps, farm supports or crop insurance. They are expected to unveil their package this month, a major advance toward enacting a farm bill before the 2014 law expires on Sept. 30.
Four days after defeating the farm bill, the House quietly delayed Speaker Paul Ryan's attempt to revive the bill until June 22, with GOP leaders hoping that hardline Republicans will vote for it the second time. Members of the House Freedom Caucus provided the decisive votes against the farm bill to underline their demand for a roll call on immigration controls. (No paywall)
Democrats joined the Republican majority to defeat the final challenges to crop subsidies in the House farm bill on Thursday, immediately followed by two-party teamwork to reject a more stringent line of SNAP work requirements than were written into the bill.
The leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee are working in private on a bipartisan farm bill, according to aides, who declined to suggest when a draft would be released. The emphasis on bipartisanship contrasted with the political rupture in the House over work requirements for food stamps.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of 200 national groups, asked U.S. representatives on Monday to vote "no" on the farm bill, saying stricter work requirments for food stamp recipients "would increase food insecurity and hardship" among poor people. "Imposing barriers to food assistance will not incentivize or equip people with what they need to seek and maintain work," wrote coalition president Vanita Gupta.
While ready to move on the farm bill, House Republican leaders are giving Agriculture Committee chairman Michael Conaway time to persuade "a lot of undecideds" to vote for tougher work requirements for SNAP recipients and looser subsidy rules for farmers. A sizable number of Republican lawmakers say Conaway wasn't tough enough on either group and want to tighten the access to federal support.
In a quiet subcommittee vote, Congress declined on Wednesday to take delivery of “America’s Harvest Box,” the Trump administration’s headline-grabbing idea of sending a monthly box of nonperishable foods to SNAP recipients.