Grassley: farm bill has a chance
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, told reporters Tuesday that leaders of the committee remain optimistic about a new farm bill being passed in the current lame-duck session of Congress, which will resume after this week's Thanksgiving break.
Grassley said that he talked to the committee's chairwoman, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), about the farm bill recently on the floor of the Senate.
"She said she thinks we have a good chance of getting it passed," Grassley said.
He added that the committee's ranking Republican, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, is "enthusiastic" about putting pressure on the House to pass a bill, which still hasn't come up for a vote in that chamber of Congress.
Grassley said that it's possible that a farm bill would be included as part of any legislation passed next month to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. But he said his gut feeling is that "if we pass either an extension or a farm bill, it's probably going to be done separately."
Grassley said that the savings in federal spending of a farm bill, which is $23 billion over 10 years in the version that the Senate has already passed, could be counted as part of any agreement to trim overall federal spending, whether it's part of a stand-alone farm bill or part of a larger fiscal cliff legislation.
Shortly after Congress came back to Washington following the November elections, Chairwoman Stabenow released this statement:
"Americans could not be more clear that now that the election is over, they want us to work together to create jobs and reduce the deficit. If Congress can work together to pass the Farm Bill, it will create the trust and momentum we need to overcome gridlock and solve the challenges our country faces. Passing a bipartisan Farm Bill that reduces the deficit by $23 billion is a significant first step in meeting the critical deficit reduction challenges our country must face head-on this year."