The House passed a $383 million drought-assistance package for livestock producers and some fruit farmers by a 223-197 vote.
The measure -- a last-ditch effort to provide some aid to farmers struggling through a drought affecting more than half of the lower 48 states -- will be offset by cuts to conservation programs and extends a disaster-relief program that expired last year.
The House has not been able to move its version of a five-year farm bill, which would cost about $500 billion over five years and cut $16.1 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps. Between conservatives in the House wanting to cut more from food stamps and Democrats thinking it already cut too much, the farm bill had little chance of passage.
The next plan was to extend the 2008 farm bill and include a disaster-relief package. But when it became clear that it, too, would fail, GOP leadership decided to move the drought bill on its own.
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