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House May Punt on Long-Term Farm Bill House May Punt on Long-Term Farm Bill

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Power

House May Punt on Long-Term Farm Bill

Reported with Ben Terris

Having moved away from quick passage of the House farm bill, Republicans are coalescing around a one-year extension of farm and nutrition programs.

It was this message that House Speaker John Boehner brought to a meeting with the freshman class on Wednesday, according to several in attendance. A vote on the 12-month measure could come as early as next week.

The drought affecting the majority of the country has led the Agriculture Department to add 76 counties to its list of disaster areas, a decision that increased scrutiny of the legislation as lawmakers debate agriculture policy.

The five-year reauthorization is mired in politics (Republicans think the $5 billion price tag is too high; Democrats do not like the $16 billion cut to food stamps), and House GOP leaders have not yet brought the legislation to the floor.

With the Sept. 30 deadline looming and the drought's worsening effects--especially on livestock farmers, who cannot collect crop insurance--House GOP leadership aides and Agriculture Committee staff met on Wednesday to figure out their next move. The most talked-about solution, according to Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., was passing a yearlong extension of the 2008 farm bill that would retroactively extend livestock disaster aid that expired last year.

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