Collin C Peterson

5 States That Will Decide the House Majority
Watch these states to tell if Democrats are having a good election night

California Democrat Harley Rouda, here with a supporter at a rally in Laguna Beach in May, is challenging GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in the 48th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With a growing number of vulnerable House districts, there might be too much to watch for on election night. But by focusing on just a handful of states, you can get a pretty good idea of whether Democrats are having a good enough night to gain the 23 seats necessary to win back the majority.

Competitive races: 5

McConnell Hopeful Farm Bill Conference Report Ready for Vote After Labor Day
Treatment of work requirements under SNAP an issue

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says he is hopeful a farm bill conference report will be ready for a vote after Labor Day. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate agreed by voice vote Tuesday to go conference with the House to negotiate a new version of the farm bill before the current legislation expires, even if that means working through the summer recess.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he was hopeful the farm bill conference report would be ready for a vote after Labor Day. The Senate is expected to name nine negotiators, five Republicans and four Democrats.

House Set to Start Farm Bill Talks With Senate Before Recess
Senate version does not include new work requirements

Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, says he is ready to go to conference on the farm bill with the Senate, but work requirements for food stamps are shaping up to be a sticking point. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House is expected to trigger farm bill negotiations Wednesday, raising the House Agriculture Committee chairman’s hopes that public pressure in support of expanded work requirements for food stamp recipients could help move Senate negotiators toward accepting the House legislation.

House Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway said he is ready to go to conference on the farm bill with the Senate. The Texas Republican said the House will vote Wednesday afternoon to launch negotiations with the Senate that will resolve differences between the chambers on a new five-year farm bill. The most contentious divide between the chambers is the scope of work requirements for food stamp recipients.

House GOP Farm Bill Passes; Compromise With Senate Next
Senate bill expected on the floor next week

House Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway says the farm bill vote was about “providing certainty” to struggling farmers and ranchers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House on Thursday passed, 213-211, the Republican-written farm bill that seeks to restructure the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a month after a stinging defeat when the legislation became embroiled in an unrelated battle over immigration legislation.

The vote “was about providing certainty to farmers & ranchers who have been struggling under a 5yr recession & about providing our neighbors in need w/ more than just a hand out, but a hand up,″ House Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway wrote on Twitter after the bill passed. There was no floor debate.

Fight Over Food Stamps Among Big Hurdles Facing Farm Bill
As a fall deadline looms, Congress keeps stewing and squabbling

A sprinkler irrigates farmland in Palmdale, Calif., on May 26. Lawmakers have two options as the farm bill nears expiration: reach a compromise or extend current law through an expected lame-duck session in late fall or into 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If everything goes according to plan this month, House leaders will round up the necessary Republican votes to pass the chamber’s 2018 farm bill after an unexpected defeat on the floor put the legislation on hold.

The failed May 18 vote marked the second time in five years that a farm bill ran into obstacles in the House. In the Senate, meanwhile, leaders have indicated they want to pass the bipartisan legislation by the July Fourth recess.

The Blue Dogs Are Barking Again
Moderate Democrats, nearly wiped out in 2010, have hopes for a comeback this year

Current Blue Dog Democrats include, from left, Reps. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, Mike Thompson, D-Calif., Jim Costa, D-Calif., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and  Brad Schneider, D-Ill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Brendan Kelly is running in a district in southern Illinois that went for Donald Trump by nearly 15 points in 2016, so his message shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“We see a system that is rigged for a powerful few,” he said in a voice full of gravel. He rails against “elites on the coasts” and understands why many are “frustrated” and “angry” over low-paying jobs and high health care costs.

Farm Bill Gets Two Days of House Rules Committee Consideration
Work requirements for SNAP among contentious topics on tap

House Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway, will continue to make his case for the GOP-drafted farm bill this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Rules Committee will devote Tuesday and Wednesday to the 2018 farm bill as members plow through a long list of amendments, raising the possibility of heated debate before it faces a floor vote later this week.

At the Tuesday afternoon session, the panel has scheduled a general discussion from House Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway of Texas and ranking member Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota on the five-year farm bill, which would set policy for nutrition, conservation, crop insurance and other programs. The current farm bill expires Sept. 30.

Take Five: Darren Soto
Florida congressman on writing music and performing: ‘My constituents want to know that I’m not some legislative robot’

Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., holds a CD from his band. He plays guitar and says he has written “hundreds” of songs. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Florida Democratic freshman Rep. Darren Soto, 40, talks about his music, how hard it is to form relationships on the Hill, and green spots on his GPS.

Q: What about Congress didn’t you expect?

Emmer Wins First Franken-less Minnesota Hotdish Competition
Sen. Tina Smith took over as host of the 8th annual event

Minnesota congressional delegation members, from left, Reps. Jason Lewis, Erik Paulsen, Keith Ellison, Tim Walz, and Betty McCollum, and Sen. Tina Smith pose for a selfie Wednesday during the eighth annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Tom Emmer’s “Hotdish of Champions” won the eighth annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition on Wednesday.

He was originally tied for first with Rep. Rick Nolan’s “Last Dish Effort” — aptly named because the congressman is retiring after this term — but the master of ceremonies, MinnPost Washington bureau chief Sam Brodey, broke the tie. 

EPA Pesticide Approval Without Endangered Species Review in Farm Bill
Environmental groups describe provision as an ‘unprecedented attack’

A provision in the 2018 farm bill would allow the EPA to approve pesticides without reviews aimed at protecting endangered species. (David McNew/Getty Images file photo)

A provision in the 2018 farm bill would allow the EPA to approve pesticides without undertaking reviews now required to protect endangered species.

Environmental groups say the provision is an “unprecedented” attack that could have lasting ramifications for ecosystems across the nation.