For the second time in five years, House Republicans failed to pass a farm bill, this time because of conservative demands for action on immigration and fierce Democratic opposition to the legislation's food stamp reforms.
By a surprisingly large bipartisan margin, the House easily defeated the latest attempt by food and candy manufacturers to reduce sugar prices, rejecting an amendment that would have ended domestic marketing controls for the commodity.
House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway is struggling to cobble together the votes he needs from GOP colleagues to pass his farm bill while fending off amendments that would roll back the sugar program or cut crop insurance.
House GOP leaders hope to pass a farm bill this week over likely unified Democratic opposition, but Republicans head into the debate divided over critical amendments on sugar policy, crop insurance and other issues.
With a farm bill floor debate looming next week, House members have filed more than half a dozen amendments attacking various aspects of the crop insurance program and others seeking to tighten rules for commodity subsidies and to roll back the sugar program.
President Donald Trump told key lawmakers Thursday that the tighter work rules for food stamp recipients in the House GOP farm bill move "in the right direction," but he stopped short of threatening to veto legislation that doesn't include them.
The stage is set for a bitter debate over a new farm bill as soon as next week in the House, but the deep partisan divisions could work in favor of farm groups as they try to stave off cuts to commodity programs or crop insurance.
As House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway prepares to bring his farm bill to the House floor, he has more to worry about than just whether he’s got enough GOP votes to pass it over united Democratic opposition.
During last year’s Agri-Pulse policy summit, I was on a panel discussing young farmers and what’s needed to encourage more young people to farm. It’s not a mystery, I explained. We need to cross our T’s.