House is Expected to Vote on Farm Bill Friday

May 18th, 2018


Category: Commentary, Dairy, Farm Bill, Grains, Miscellaneous, Oilseeds, Sugar

(CNN) –The House is scheduled to vote Friday on a controversial farm bill that, if passed, would help set agriculture policy for the next five years.

But with a granular debate over the government’s role in the sugar industry, advancing the bill has been no piece of cake.

Republican leaders mounted a full court press Thursday to quash a sugar policy amendment that could have derailed the farm bill. Despite nail-biting drama that dominated the House for much of the day, the amendment was ultimately crushed by a wide margin.

Also complicating matters is a push by conservatives to get a vote on an unrelated issue: immigration. Members of the House Freedom Caucus have been threatening to withhold support for the farm bill unless they get their desired outcome on an immigration bill.

Though they’ve been in negotiations with Republican leadership for two days over the issue, it was still unclear how their members would vote on the farm bill Friday.

The Republican-drafted bill has also attracted criticism from Democrats with its overhaul for food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Republicans want to require more people to work in order to receive the benefits, extending the mandate to parents of school-age children and to those in their 50s.

That’s the main reason why Democrats are rejecting the bill. They worry the new requirements will prove too onerous for some of the very beneficiaries in need of the assistance. Those who fail to work or enroll in job training could be locked out for up to three years.

President Donald Trump voiced support for the bill Thursday in a tweet.

“Tomorrow, the House will vote on a strong Farm Bill, which includes work requirements. We must support our Nation’s great farmers!”

The 641-page bill also addresses a range of issues related to agriculture, such as livestock disaster programs, conservation, feral swine, farm loan programs and broadband services in rural areas, just to name a few.

Given that the Senate is working on its own version of a farm bill — one that has a less stringent approach on SNAP — it’s a foregone conclusion that the House bill, should it pass, won’t be the final say on the matter, with a possible House-Senate conference looming to hash out the significant differences.

“There could not be a better time to take action to help more people join our workforce,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters during a news conference Thursday. “That is why the farm bill that we are debating today is so critical. It sets up a system for SNAP recipients where if you are able to work, you should work to get the benefits. And if you can’t work, we’ll help you get the training you need.”



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