2018 Farm Bill Takes a Turn for the Worse03/16/2018
The House Agriculture Committee has long been one of the most bipartisan committees in Congress. That’s why Congress has continued passing farm bills even as the country becomes more and more urban. But things are taking a turn for the worse even before Chairman Mike Conaway brings out his draft farm bill.
Republicans suspect Democrats are trying to delay the bill so it doesn’t pass this year. Democrats deny that’s their aim.
But yesterday afternoon on the House floor, the committee’s ranking Democrat, Collin Peterson, delivered a letter to Conaway signed by all of the other committee Democrats demanding to see the text of the bill before they negotiate any further on changes to its nutrition title.
Peterson later issued a statement indicating that Democratic members also want the official cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. “I’m not sure where this will take us, but it will give the members information about what is actually being proposed,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Conaway says Peterson has had both the bill language and cost estimates for weeks. Peterson says he withheld that information from Democratic members at Conaway’s request and that Conaway still hasn’t provided estimates of how the bill would affect SNAP recipients.
What’s ahead: Congress can still get the farm bill done this year, but the schedule is becoming much more difficult, given that the House and Senate Agriculture Committees won’t be moving their bills before April or May at the earliest. After July, Congress is in session for only a short time before the November elections.