Frank Lucas Optimistic Congress Can Deliver Final Farm Bill to President's Desk Before Sept DeadlineWed, 22 Aug 2018 12:41:52 CDT
Oklahoma’s Third District Congressman Frank Lucas hosted a series of town hall meetings this week to meet with constituents and talk about developing policy issues that might impact them. Representing many of Oklahoma’s rural residents in Washington, DC, one of the main issues Lucas addressed was the progress made by Congress in recent months to craft and pass a final version of the 2018 Farm Bill that will replace the existing legislation. He spoke to Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays about that progress and what issues are being ironed out in ongoing negotiations between the House and Senate. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
According Lucas, much of the finer differences between the House and Senate Farm Bills are being worked through and negotiated on a staff-to-staff level, very minor issues that although seem inconsequential on the whole, Lucas insists still must be reconciled. Larger issues, though, things like the Nutrition and Conservation titles, will be addressed in conference committee by each chamber’s respective leaders. Lucas says that opportunity to meet formally in conference will likely happen soon after Congressional members reconvene in DC after the Labor Day holiday on September 4th.
Lucas says if those major issues can be resolved in a timely fashion, it is within reason to believe that a final version of the bill could be delivered to the President’s desk for his signature and legal endorsement to approve the proposed legislation into law before the existing bill expires on September 30th.
“It’s possible… but, here’s the issue,” Lucas clarified. “On the last day of September, the old Farm Bill begins to unwind. It doesn’t all completely come to a stop on October 1, but is begins to unwind. So, the quicker we can address the issue before then, the better off we’ll be.”
Lucas implies that having five years of certainty on the books is significantly more preferable in his mind rather than seeking a one-year extension to the current Farm Bill and continuing to kick the can down the road on finalizing a new bill. While the larger issues at hand that are left to discuss are quite contentious ones, Lucas says both sides of the argument are based on “pragmatic principles.”
“We’ll see what kind of reform we can achieve,” he said, “but even if there’s not a dramatic adjustment in the final text of the 2018 Farm Bill, nonetheless, we’re on the verge of real reform in food stamps no matter what happens.”
And in spite of the ongoing political discourse, mounting trade tensions and a clock that is quickly ticking down to the deadline to replace the Farm Bill, Lucas says the attitude of constituents at his town hall meetings this week have been “surprisingly calm” compared to experiences in previous years.
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