Republican House Speaker John Boehner might try as early as next week to extend farm programs and fund disaster aid for drought-damaged areas leaving the massive farm bill undone over August recess.
In fact, key farm-bill players met on Tuesday to discuss ways to move a the bill's conference report in September, according to congressional aides and industry sources.
With many conservative House Republicans wary of both the Senate-passed legislation and the House Agriculture Committee's proposal, Boehner probably cannot get a reauthorization through the House and is instead weighing a bid to extend current policy and provide disaster aid, sources said. That package could hit the House floor as early as next week. But there's also a possibility it too might have to wait until after August recess.
In the interim, the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees--Reps. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan.--met on Tuesday night to discuss how to begin combining the House and Senate bills over the August recess, according to congressional aides and an industry source. Those efforts are complicated by the possiblity that the House will adjourn next week without taking up the bill.
Peterson is working to line up Democratic votes in a support of his committee's version, but so far seems short of being able to assure Boehner that there are enough Democratic votes to overcome defections among Republicans.