Republicans expect to advance a farm bill in the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday despite Democratic anger over its reforms to food stamps, but the legislation also would make significant changes in policy and funding across many other sections, including conservation, rural development and horticulture.
House Republicans prepare to force their new farm bill through the Agriculture Committee this week in what is likely to be a bitter but potentially brief debate, setting up a likely showdown on the House floor in May.
House Republicans are relying on elimination of the Conservation Stewardship Program and tightened eligibility rules and work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to fund other priorities in the new farm bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The House Agriculture Committee’s proposed farm bill provides a mix of new restrictions and incentives in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that Republicans say would give beneficiaries’ new dignity by helping them find work or better-paying employment.
House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway kicked off a battle over the next farm bill by releasing draft legislation that offers producers improvements to major commodity programs at minimal cost, while overhauling conservation policy and making sweeping reforms to nutrition assistance.
The House Agriculture Committee is preparing to debate a Republican farm bill as early as next week, but the legislation’s future on the House floor remains up in the air as Democrats show no signs of backing off their opposition
A partisan impasse on the House Agriculture Committee is making it more likely by the day that Congress won’t pass a new farm bill this year, forcing lawmakers to eventually pass a short-term extension of the 2014 law, say veterans of past farm bill battles.
The Republican farm bill proposal would cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits by more than $20 billion over 10 years and reduce enrollment through expanded work requirements and stricter eligibility rules, according to Democratic aides.
House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway said he is “going forward” with moving a new farm bill next month despite the refusal of Democrats to negotiate over provisions expanding work requirements and reworking eligibility rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The House Agriculture Committee’s partisan impasse over a draft farm bill deepened when the panel’s Democrats delivered a letter to Chairman MIke Conaway demanding to see the legislative text before negotiating with him further on its nutrition provisions.