The House is only scheduled to be in session for about two weeks this month, but that should be plenty of time to move on the farm bill, so says Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
"I don't care if there's eight days left, we only need a couple in the House to get this done," the Senate Agriculture Committee chairwoman said Tuesday. "They are going to pass their C.R. this week. What's more important to do next than a farm bill?"
The House would need to reauthorize the agriculture and nutrition programs before authority expires at month's end.
The problem, however, has less to do with importance and more to do with politics. The House already approved a stand-alone disaster-relief bill to help livestock farmers suffering from the drought, relieving much of the political pressure to pass a comprehensive farm bill.
"I suspect there will be some members who went home and said 'I did my part, now it's time for the Senate to do something,'" House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., told National Journal recently.
That $383 million package would pay for a retroactive extension of disaster aid that expired last year but Stabenow says that she does not want to see it brought to the Senate floor.
"The House disaster-assistance bill is wholly inadequate," she said. "We're hearing from groups they want that done in the context of a farm bill."
A farm bill, she points out, could pay for disaster aid with savings written into the bill instead of making new cuts just to conservation programs.
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