The House went into recess without having passed the Senate's farm bill, after approving a separate drought package. But because the Senate passed a comprehensive farm bill, including drought aid, nothing is in effect at the moment.
On Monday, President Barack Obama talked drought with farmers in Iowa, and announced the Agriculture Department will begin buying $170 million worth of beef, pork, chicken, lamb and fish.
In response to Obama's visit, House Speaker John Boehner laid the blame squarely on the president's shoulders, with his office releasing a statement that if Obama were serious about helping farmers, he'd push Democratic Senators to OK the House-approved drought aid.
"The Democratic-controlled Senate left town for August without taking action on a drought aid bill that passed the House with bipartisan support, including the support of Chairman Ryan," Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said. "The weak attempt by the White House to manufacture a controversy illustrates the president's desperation to change the subject to anything other than his failures on jobs and the economy."
Senate Democrats don't seem poised to do any such thing. Last week, Sen. Debbie Stabenow said that while White House aid to farmers is positive, "the real burden rests on Congress to pass a full five-year Farm Bill that would provide better disaster relief and provide long-term certainty."
And are Americans largely concerned about the drought? Later today, ORC International will release findings from its national public opinion survey, focused on the drought, and conducted for the Civil Society Institute.