House Ag Committee Chair Frank Lucas Says Whip Count is Crucial to Proceeding with House Debate of Farm Bill Next WeekThu, 13 Jun 2013 20:36:07 CDT
The Chairman of the House Ag Committee, Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas, talked with Farm Director Ron Hays about the latest farm bill developments on Thursday morning. Chairman Lucas says that a lot of progress has been made in the last couple of days, and he is very pleased that the Speaker of the US House, Republican John Boehner of Ohio, has publically stated his support for the 2013 Farm Bill as passed by the House Ag Committee last month.
"I've got concerns about the farm bill, as I told our members," Boehner said after a closed House Republican Conference meeting. "But doing nothing means that we get no changes in the farm program, no changes in the nutrition program. And as a result, I'm going to vote for the farm bill to make sure that the good work of the Agriculture Committee and whatever the floor might do to improve this bill gets to a conference so that we can get the kind of changes that people want in our nutrition programs and our farm programs."
Lucas told Hays he expects the farm bill to come up on the House floor next week, assuming that the whip count shows that they are close to the 218 votes needed for final passage. He expressed his hope that by Monday the Rules Committee would put out a call for amendments - which he expects hundreds of. Lucas says he has had conversations with the Chairman of the House Rules Committee and that he is expecting the Rules Committee will sort through the amendments, realize redundancy isn't a good use of time and limit the number of amendments on each subject. The Lucas definition of an "open discussion" on the floor of the House is not for every one of two or three hundred amendments to be heard and possibly voted on- but for all major points of view to have their concerns aired and voted on. This would result in each of the major areas of the bill to be open for consideration in an open but orderly process and the Chairman believes the House will end up voting on 30 to 40 amendments covering every title- including food stamps, sugar, dairy, conservation and crop insurance.
Lucas says the debate that could be the most contentious may be over the level of cuts in nutrition spending, although he does expect those who simply don't like Commodity Title spending will come up the more modest farm safety net that is in this bill- compared to the 2008 or previous farm bills. He also expects several amendments could end up being considered on how mush support is reasonable for crop insurance- and he also expects those who want to socially engineer what a farmer should look like will offer payment limitations on the safety net programs- both in Title 1 as well as in Crop Insurance.
Hays and Lucas also talked about the Conference Committee process, if the House is successful in passing a farm bill this coming week or soon after, The Chairman of the House Ag Committee will be the Chair of the Conference as well- and he expects the House and Senate can agree on about 95% of the overall language of the two bills, with significant but resolvable differences with the Commodity Title. On Nutrition spending, he believes only a deal brokered by top leadership in the House, Senate and the White House can lead to a compromise that can work in the final language of the bill.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to the entire conversation between the Chairman of the House Ag Committee, Frank Lucas, and Ron Hays.
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