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House gauging support for splitting farm bill

An interesting update on the farm bill:



House gauging support for splitting farm bill


The House appears to be moving closer to splitting the farm bill in two – the agriculture components and the nutrition section, which includes the popular food stamp program.

Lawmakers are canvassing support for the idea, and could vote on the farm bill portion as soon as this week if enough lawmakers in the House support the idea. GOP leadership, lead by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have been assessing the best path forward after the full House defeated the farm bill, 195-234, last month largely because of proposed changes to the food stamp program.

“I haven’t heard anything that says we’re going to go to the floor with a farm bill so I don’t know if they came up with a ‘yes’ answer at this point,” said Iowa Rep. Steve King, a Republican who has opposed dividing the bill. “It looks like they are going to go that way if they can pass the bill.”

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D, said if GOP leaders get enough support from the members “a vote could happen very quickly.” She hoped lawmakers are being surveyed not only on whether they support splitting the bill but if they would vote in favor of the two parts standing on their own.

“At the end of the day we need farm policy, and there may be a lot of members that think it’s a good idea to split them that still could vote ‘no’ ,” she said.

The current farm bill expires on Sept. 30

Some Republicans have said the estimated $2 billion in annual cuts to the program in the House version of the bill were not enough, while Democrats said they were too steep. The full Senate, which passed its bill earlier in June, reduced the program by $400 million each year.

King said splitting the bill would doom any chance of reforming the food stamp program used by some 48 million Americans.

“Even if we pass two separate bills … what I expect would happen is we would not be able to reform the food stamp side of this things unless there was a majority in the House, the Senate and the presidency,” said King.

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