US farm bill reportedly could be called up for House vote as early as Jan. 29; bill expected to pass House with bipartisan support, move to Senate for likely approval before its mid-February recess
January 27, 2014
(United Press International)
– A $1 trillion U.S. farm bill, stalled in Congress for two years, is to be unveiled as early as Monday, senior House aides told the Washington Post and Politico.
The comprehensive five-year omnibus bill, which is expected to cut about $9 billion from food stamps over 10 years, could be filed Monday night and called up for a vote as early as Wednesday, Politico said.
It is expected to pass the House with bipartisan support and move to the Senate for likely approval before its mid-February recess, the Post said.
"We remain optimistic that we can reach agreement in time to be on the floor next week," House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., told his colleagues over the weekend in a message cited by the Post.
The message asked committee members working on the measure to be back in Washington Monday morning to participate in a possible meeting.
Aides later told the Post signatures of support for the compromise measure were being collected in case not enough lawmakers returned in time.
The measure, which deals with all matters under the Agriculture Department, is expected to eliminate about $9 billion over 10 years from food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, by creating stricter eligibility standards.
The standards would change by tweaking federal heating assistance program rules some states use to determine a person's eligibility for food aid, aides familiar with the negotiations told the Post.
The $9 billion in cuts is a compromise between the Senate's proposed $4 billion cut and the House's nearly $40 billion.
Other areas in the bill range from price support programs to food labeling, catfish inspection and livestock treatment.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has noted the bill cuts the deficit and supports 16 million people who depend on agriculture for their jobs, making it one of the largest jobs bills Congress has debated in recent years.
The Agriculture Department last month put pressure on lawmakers to reach a deal, saying if they didn't have a final bill by the end of this month, milk prices would have to rise.
It said the 2008 farm bill expired at the end of September, reverting agriculture programs to 1949 farm legislation that calls for significantly higher milk prices and agriculture subsidies.
The 1949 legislation is known as "permanent law" that all subsequent farms bills have simply amended every five years, the New York Times said.
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