House and Senate leaders on Monday night announced a conference committee had reached bipartisan agreement on a five-year farm-bill conference report, and the House Rules Committee was moving in the evening to set up a floor vote on Wednesday.
As described in an announcement from House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the measure — which costs more than $900 billion over 10 years — contains a number of major reforms.
There was no official score yet as of early Monday night from the Congressional Budget Office. But the Rules Committee was expected to reconvene later in the evening to set floor procedures for the anticipated vote.
“We are putting in place sound policy that is good for farmers, ranchers, consumers, and those who have hit difficult times,” said Lucas, while Stabenow added that the bipartisan bill “saves taxpayers billions, eliminates unnecessary subsidies, creates a more effective farm safety-net, and helps farmers and businesses create jobs.”
After House passage, the bill would then move to the Senate for final approval. When asked if the measure would pass both chambers, Stabenow said she was very “optimistic.”
One of the most contentious parts of the bill — the amount of a cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps — has a been resolved with a compromise cut of about $8 billion to $8.5 billion over 10 years, aides to committee members say. That resolution lands between the Senate’s proposed $4 billion cuts and the House’s $39 billion proposed savings. The compromise cut to food stamps is paid for with changes to the way some states calculate a household’s benefit level for food assistance under the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The agreement also is described as strengthening crop insurance.
A lingering issue has been how far the federal government should go in continuing price controls that artificially sustain certain dairy price levels. That is a practice that is backed by many lawmakers but opposed by others who complain it costs taxpayers billions of dollars, with House Speaker John Boehner even deriding it as a “Soviet-style” system. Details were sketchy, but one member of the conference, Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., said that Boehner was “in agreement” with how the bill addresses that.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."