The Senate passed its $ 428 billion agriculture bill on Thursday, fueling a fierce battle against food stamps, agricultural subsidies, and wildlife conservation funds.
The Senate measure was passed by 86 to 11 votes, overwhelming support, reflecting the desire of both sides to relieve farmers who face low prices for their products and a host of other problems. But the bill faces challenges when legislators meet later in the summer to reconcile gaping differences between the House and Senate accounts.
The House version of the legislation, which was barely passed without democratic support last week, demands strict new work requirements for non-disabled people from adults looking for food stamps. The version of the Senate that required the adoption of democratic votes does not contain any significant changes to the food stamps.
Key senators have stated that they would not support a final bill with labor requirements, although this policy is supported by the White House ̵
With House Republicans insisting that they will fight for their version of the legislation, the discrepancies have fueled fears Congress will not be able to pass a new draft agricultural bill before the law expires on September 30. This could lead to major disruptions in some programs if legislators do not extend the legislation or appropriate separate funds to farmers who are already struggling with low commodity prices and market fluctuations over Trump's tariffs, the senators of both parties emphasize before the election on Thursday that Adoption of legislation is crucial.
"I do not know how to emphasize this, but I hope my colleagues will understand that the responsibility, the absolute prerequisite, is to provide farmers, ranchers and breeders – all within America's d chain – security and predictability in these very difficult times we are experiencing, "said Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Agricultural Committee, in the Senate.
"This is not the best possible bill, it is the best bill possible, and we have worked very hard to produce it." (19659009) Agricultural income has fallen in the last four years Commodity prices have fallen. Slightly less than half of all farms lose money every year, according to the Department of Agriculture, a situation that will worsen as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates and trade tensions threaten export markets.
"There is a sense of urgency in the country, there are just so many things in the air for farmers and ranchers, it's a very, very difficult time," said Senator Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Die Supreme Agricultural Commission of the Democrats. "And this bill is really a bill that provides farmers with a safety net and a safety net for families."
A huge legislative package that oversees a range of farming, conservation and nutrition programs, and agricultural legislation is re-approved every five years, usually on a cross-party basis. Separate bills work their way through the House and Senate before lawmakers reconcile them in the conference. The compromise bill must then pass through each chamber again before going to the President's desk.
This year, the cross-party negotiations in the House of Representatives diverge as Republicans face the bitter demands of the Democrats for food distribution. The housekeeping bill was also briefly enmeshed in an unrelated immigration-related legislative brawl that led to her failing on the first attempt before she barely passed when she resurrected last week.
Under the controversial House Food Stamp Plan, most adults would either have to work 20 hours a week or participate in a state-run training program to receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, which requires an average payment of $ 125 per month to 42.3 million Americans. While both the White House and the House Republicans have launched the plan as an inventive way to get people back to work, the Democrats and Senators in both parties vowed to vote against a plan some say that he will unfairly increase the bureaucracy for low-income Americans.
An attempt by Republicans Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.), John Kennedy (La.) And Mike Lee (Utah) to add to the Senate bill tougher food stamp language failed Thursday as 68 senators polled their table The Amendment only 30 supported it.
"The things they have in it are mainly to torture people who are on SNAP, that's really what it's all about," said Collin C. Peterson (Minn.), A top Democrat in House Agriculture Committee, on Thursday about the food stamp regulations in the House Act. "As I told people, the only thing that will work out of this farm bill will be paperwork."
But the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex), said he would argue during the conference committee's negotiations that it would be a bad policy in an election year that legislators oppose the changes that aiming to bring people into the workplace
"I expect that this conversation with the American people will be close to a standstill when you are able to work, 18 to 59, and you want SNAP – and you are not spiritual or physically handicapped, you are not a caregiver of a young child – that you work the program only by 20 hours a week and / or participate in a training program that brings you there.This is a compelling argument for any population group in this country, "said Conaway. "If our colleagues are so far from what their voters say to them right before the election, they may do so at their own risk."
The legislature also expects a battle over the Senate's proposed changes to agricultural subsidies, part of the $ 13 billion federal safety net. According to the Senate bill, the "managers" of farms that are not actively engaged in agriculture would lose the subsidy checks that the USDA pays when grain prices fall below the given level. Legislators are also likely to collide with conservation funding, cut by both chambers – but the House of Representatives cut $ 5 billion more sharply in 10 years. The Republicans of the House of Representatives have proposed to cancel the bulk of the Conservation Stewardship program, a popular initiative aimed at encouraging farmers to engage in soil, air and water quality. "There is no reason for us not to get a conference and a bill after the deadline from both chambers," said Andrew Walmsley, head of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation. "We do not want to see an extension."
This is in stark contrast to the Bill of the House of Representatives, which removes existing restrictions on subsidies for agricultural products. Conaway said that given the difficulties that threaten the farmland, "the safety net is going to be at this stage – maybe it was a better idea in 2014, but I think it's a terrible idea for 2018 given the backdrop."
Minor conflicts could also arise Popular programs for the promotion of organic agriculture and local food, which were compulsorily funded in the Senate but not listed in the House Act.
"There are always differences, but this difference is not typical," said Ferd Hoefner, a longtime strategic adviser to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. "It is the result of the decision in the House of Representatives to pass a parliamentary agricultural bill without considering some of these other cross-party issues and programs at committee level."
Congress could extend current agriculture legislation if legislators are ultimately incapable of ironing out these differences before the bill expires.
But lawmakers are under tremendous pressure from rural groups, including the Efficient Farm Bureau, to say goodbye to a bill in time and give farmers more security in the coming growing season. This pressure can ultimately force both sides to make concessions in the conference.