Farm bill scenarios unfold
On a day when political posturing in Washington sent the stock market plunging, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told reporters he remains optimistic that Congress will deal with the so-called fiscal cliff before the current lame-duck session ends next month. And he believes that differences between the House and Senate versions of a farm bill could be worked out even if the farm bill is thrown into any tax- and deficit-cutting legislation or agreement.
Grassley pointed out that the Iowa delegation in the House is still working on a petition that would force a vote on the farm bill in the House, which, unlike the Senate, still has not passed a version of the farm bill. The petition effort, led by Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA) needs 218 signatures to require a vote. Before the November election, 67 members of the House from both parties had signed on.
If there is no vote and the farm bill gets wrapped into a bigger package of legislation, Grassley expected differences between the House and Senate bills to be worked out in a process similar to a year ago, when the leaders of both the House and Senate agriculture committees met behind closed doors to present a farm bill draft to the "super committee" that tried, and failed, to find a way to trim more than $1 trillion from federal spending.
The process would involve those four people, he said, (the committee chairs and ranking minority leaders). They would reach an agreement "and just give it to the legislators putting together the fiscal cliff legislation," Grassley said.