It took until nearly 1 a.m. Thursday morning, but the House Agriculture Committee was able to pass its Farm Bill after a marathon markup. This in itself is noteworthy, as it could lay a possible path for the farm bill to become law before the Sept. 30 deadline (a proposition that months ago seemed unfathomable).
But there's still a major hurdle to overcome and that may just be getting the bill onto the House floor.
"I think the pressure will build and they'll cave before the week we go on recess," ranking member Collin Peterson said during a mid-markup cigarette break. "If they don't, politically they'll pay the price.... In farm country, this bill is all they care about."
Republican leaders have been cagey about whether the full House will get to consider it before the election.
Back in the committee room, the markup was going pretty smoothly. Sure, there were 101 amendments, plenty of which were contentious, leading to tense moments. But as the two most controversial titles closed--involving insurance and food stamps--the bill hadn't really changed. Much of the credit goes to Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Peterson, who know that if the bill has any chance of becoming law, it needs broad support.
Discussion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provided the most fireworks. The initial bill would cut about $16 billion from food stamps, or roughly $12 billion more than its Senate counterpart.
"Some say the cuts we propose to food stamps are not enough, while others say the cuts are too much," Lucas said. "I believe most Americans would agree a 2-percent cut to food stamps is reasonable."
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