Boehner: No decision yet on farm bill
By Erik Wasson and Molly K. Hooper
07/19/12 01:23 PM ET – House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said there is still no decision on whether to bring the 2012 farm bill to a floor vote.
The farm bill passed out of the House Agriculture Committee last week on a bipartisan 35-11 vote.
Asked at a press conference if the bill would come to the floor, Boehner responded, “No decisions have been made on the farm bill yet.”
Boehner said the same thing at his media availability with reporters last week. At that time, he described the dairy supply management provisions in the bill as “Soviet-style.” Boehner voted against the last two five-year farm bills.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday called on Boehner to bring the bill forward, even though she does not support the $16.5 billion in cuts to food stamps in the compromise bill.
“There are, of course, a diversity of views that exist about specifics in the farm bill. For example, I cannot support the cuts to the food and nutrition programs. But these differences are all the more reason to bring the bill up under an open rule that allows for debate and amendments and move us to a conference with the Senate,” she said in a letter to farm groups. “Let’s debate the farm bill now before the August recess, make the necessary changes and get a good bill to the president’s desk before Sept. 30 that protects our farmers, provides access to nutritious food and creates jobs,” she said.
The farm bill puts the United States on track to spend $957 billion over 10 years; the price tag is daunting to fiscal hawks in both parties. While the House bill cuts $35 billion from what would otherwise be spent under current law, both the House budget and Obama’s budget would have gotten more savings from farm subsidies.
The House bill does away with direct payments but expands and modifies crop insurance and price-floor subsidies with $9 billion in spending.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) are pushing for floor consideration under a modified open rule that would limit amendments.
On Thursday, 38 rank-and-file Republicans joined a letter urging Boehner to move on the bill before the Aug. 3 recess.
Current farm law expires Sept. 30.
Peterson told The Hill that if the deadline is missed by a few months, true pain might not be felt until the winter crop harvest next spring. He said that some Republicans want to mine the farm bill for more savings to use to replace automatic sequester cuts to defense slated for next year. For this reason, rural-state representatives are keen on action now.