Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Recess May Boost Farm Bill’s Prospects

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy is optimistic that Congress will pass a farm bill after the August recess, once lawmakers have had time to hear from constituents.

“This doesn’t help or hurt the overall process, but it does say that we can create a majority,” he said.

The Senate has refused to take up the measure, with Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) calling on the House to instead bring the full farm bill to the floor.

Back in Members’ districts, House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson said, there is sure to be pressure on Republicans to come to an agreement on the bill and bring it up in September.

“A lot of them are going to come back with religion, if you will,” the Minnesota Democrat said. “A lot of these freshmen have not been around here long enough to know what they’re facing when they go home. They have no good answer to give their constituents about why they didn’t do this, and it’s going to make a very uncomfortable situation for them. I think some of leadership has no idea what they’re going to be facing.”

In fact, Peterson said, the leaders of the Agriculture committees are so confident that something will change over recess that they are working to hash out a compromise bill during August so they are prepared to move swiftly when lawmakers return.

“We’re working with the Senate to try to come up with a way to get this bill settled over August,” Peterson said. “What I think is going to happen is they’re going to want to move this as soon as we get back, and we have to be ready. If we’re ready, we can move this in a couple of days.”

But even if that doesn’t happen, some in the Senate are hoping that the farm bill could at least be brought up in the lame-duck session, and because it saves more than $20 billion, it could be used to offset other costly legislation.

That would, of course, necessitate a short-term extension of the farm bill, or even a lapse, if an extension proves impossible.

Meredith Shiner contributed to this report.

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