Monday, July 30, 2012

UPDATED: House Sets Farm Bill Extension Vote This Week; Senate Likely to Accede

The U.S. House is set to vote this week on a bill extending farm bill programs for one year, and providing disaster emergency relief to agricultural landowners and producers. The House Rules Committee will meet tomorrow (hearing at 5 PM EDT in Capitol room H-313) to consider the order of rule for the bill’s consideration by the full House. Here is the House schedule for the week (including listing of farm disaster relief/Farm Bill extension consideration before Congress takes off for its five-week August recess). Here is a link to the PDF file of the bill. It extends conservation and energy programs that would otherwise have run out of money with the expiration of the current farm bill’s authority on September 30.

Assuming that the House passes the one-year bill, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) could potentially call for a conference to reconcile the House bill with the Farm Bill passed by the Senate in June. She would be likely seeking to resolve significant differences between the two bills on food stamp cuts, crop insurance and price protection for southern farmers.

UPDATE: (1 PM EDT, July 30) Democratic agriculture leaders (mostly Debbie Stabenow in the Senate and Collin Peterson in the House) are not backing this approach unless they can get GOP assurance that this week’s one-year extension bill will commit Congress to a timetable for finishing the farm bill this fall. They don't like the House legislation since it will extend the current crop subsidy provisions for another year. House GOP leadership (Boehner especially) likes the short-term extension approach since it takes what had been a lightning rod issue (along with food stamps) and takes it off the pre-election House calendar. So Democratic leaders are very likely not going to get those assurances of a full farm bill debate in 2012. It looks as if the House will pass the bill on Wednesday and at that point, Senate Democrats will have little option other than to stop all their positioning about filibustering preliminary motions and simply opt for the short-term extension. Most bets are that the Senate will pass the bill soon after the House does.

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