House Republicans huddle to discuss farm bill plan
By Derrick Cain
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, June 26, 2013 - House Republicans gathered today to seek a way forward after the spectacular failure of the five-year farm bill (H.R. 1947) last week.
While no firm plan has been set, the discussion indicates that House Republicans are intently interested in finding a way to get the bill approved this year.
“We had a very lively discussion in conference,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., after the meeting. “We're having a very lively discussion in leadership. Clearly, we need to get something done. I want to get something done, I think they want to get something done, and I'm still calming down. We'll get something done.”
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, third-ranking Republican member of the House Agriculture Committee, said - with tongue planted firmly in cheek - that he brought up the farm bill “just gently” during the meeting.
“A consensus is forming on the need to find a solution,” King said. “I guess you can call that progress.”
He said he plans to meet with Lucas during the July 4 recess and talk “in depth on this thing and really plan a strategy”
King said he hopes to have the same conversation with ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., over the break.
On the farm bill's failure, King said, “For some Republicans, it was pretty simple to say ‘I don't support any subsidy' and they don't go on to the next piece of the equation, which is voting ‘no' on the farm bill supports a lot of subsidy because we reform a lot of subsidy. That realization will start to settle in better.”
Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., said he pushed his proposal, during the meeting, to separate the food stamp provisions from the farm policy provisions into two bills.
“I would vote for both bills,” Stutzman said, noting he will continue to oppose any farm bill that includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“This is not a conservative or liberal position,” Stutzman said. “It's just good government.”
Stutzman said he believes about 60 Republicans voted against the bill mainly because they want SNAP removed from the farm bill.
“I have already identified at least a dozen,” he said. “There seems to be populous movement behind it. I didn't have one person back home telling me I did the wrong thing.”
Removing the SNAP program from the farm bill, however, is a complete non-starter in both chambers of Congress.
“Splitting the bill means not having a bill and that's least acceptable option,” Lucas said. “Everything else is on the table and we're working on scenarios. We'll sort it out.”
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