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House Sets New Vote on Farm Bill

Attempt to revive Farm Bill is delayed.

WASHINGTON - The House quietly delayed Speaker Paul Ryan’s attempt to revive the farm bill until June 22, with GOP leaders intending to remove conservative opposition to the bill by holding a vote on immigration control in the interim.

Representatives agreed to the June 22 target by passing, 227-180, a multipart resolution on Tuesay that set terms of debate for three bills, including a military spending bill. The final sentence in the resolution said action on the farm bill “may continue to be postponed through the legislative day of Friday, June 22.”

“Obviously, last Friday was regrettable. Obviously, we did not want to see members take down the farm bill,” Ryan told reporters. Thirty Republicans, half of them from the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, joined all House Democrats in defeating the GOP-written farm bill, 213-198, last Friday. The Freedom Caucus targeted the farm bill as a way to show its resolve to force its leaders to call a vote on immigration legislation. The group wants a vote on a more restrictive bill than a different bill that would help so-called Dreamers and is supported by Democrats and nearly two dozen Republicans.

Ryan said GOP leaders are trying to “find the consensus sweet spot” on immigration. He brushed aside a question if defeat of the farm bill was a repudiation of his leadership and if he ought to step aside as speaker. “The best thing for us is to complete our agenda,” said Ryan.

An aide to Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts said “no date has been locked down just yet” for a committee vote on a Senate farm bill. Roberts told a Bloomberg report that he is aiming for a June 6 vote in committee. Roberts and the senior Democrat on the committee, Debbie Stabenow, have said they do not plan major changes in food stamps, unlike the House bill.

The 2014 farm law expires on September 30, but many provisions will continue to operate for months. Food stamps and crop insurance are permanent programs, so they will remain in operation. 

Written by House Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway, the House farm bill would toughen work requirements for food stamp recipients and loosen payment limits for farmers. It also would eliminate the cost-sharing Conservation Stewardship Program. The top priority of farm groups for the farm bill is maintenance of a strong crop insurance program.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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