Farm Bill Talks Remain at a Crawl

House and Senate agriculture leaders haven’t had any major breakthroughs as they head into a crucial week for meeting their goal of passing a farm bill by Sept. 30, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow told reporters late Monday.

The so-called big four — which includes the two Senate ag leaders and their House counterparts — still haven’t worked out if they will be able to meet in person this week. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway will be in Washington even though the House isn’t in session, but it’s not clear if all four lawmakers will be able to line up their schedules. The four principals are aiming to hold a call today, Roberts told reporters.

More time on the clock? While current law expires at the end of the month, both Roberts and Stabenow have now suggested that any pain from a lapse would not really be felt until December, which could mean lawmakers are moving back their goal post as they try to come to a deal on H.R. 2 (115). “We’re not sure we actually need an extension,” Stabenow said late Monday. Roberts offered the same sentiment last week.

About those tweets: The Michigan Democrat was also asked whether President Donald Trump’s tweets and Conaway’s recent comments blaming her for holding up negotiations could poison the well. “It’s not helpful, certainly … but I’m going to act in a way that I believe is responsible and helpful to get a farm bill done,” she said. “I can’t be responsible for other people.”

Big differences: Stabenow suggested there’s still little agreement on large swaths of the omnibus farm legislation. “We very much want to get it done,” she said. “There’s just very different views on how farm programs should look, how conservation programs should look, how food assistance programs should look, how energy programs should look — there’s just a lot of big differences, but we have not stopped working.”

On SNAP: Roberts said while progress has been made on the commodity and conservation titles, “the real big issue is SNAP.” He added, “To date, at least, I’ve not been ingenious enough … to come up with something that will work, but as this draws down to this final week here, we’ve got to come to some agreement.”

Source: Politico

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