What is in this article?:
- Farm bill clock set to strike midnight
- Blame game
- House Speaker John Boehner confirmed that the House will not take up the “farm bill issue” until after November elections. Current law is set to expire at the end of this month.
What about recent comments by Boehner friends that blame House Leader Eric Cantor for the farm bill impasse?
“Boehner or Cantor -- does it matter?” Regardless, “We know that it’s House Republican leadership that is preventing the farm bill from coming to the floor. … There’s too much unfinished business – including the farm bill -- to be going home and campaigning.”
Farmers should be calling their congressmen and insisting that a House vote be taken before recess, said Johnson, as dealing with the farm bill during the coming lame duck session is too risky.
“Here’s the problem: there is no specificity about what will happen in the lame duck session. It used to be that there were no lame duck sessions. Those are done to deal with issues too political to be tackled before elections.
“In the coming lame duck session, there will be the huge issues of sequestration, tax rates, the fiscal cliff, postal reform. There will be many really big issues.”
Throwing the farm bill into that volatile mix presents two problems.
“One is if the House would just pass a farm bill before the election recess there could be a conference between (passage) and the lame duck session. They could come back during the lame duck and just have an up or down vote. While there is debate allowed on a conference report, there can be no amendments. But they aren’t doing that. Instead, (House leaders) are saying, ‘Put the whole thing into the lame duck.’”
That means the House will have to take up the farm bill, have a debate, make amendments, and ultimately pass it. Only then will it go over the Senate for conference.
“That conference committee will have to do its work during the lame duck session and then bring the final bill back (to both chambers). All of that has to be done in the lame duck. That’s a lot that has to happen. … Logistically it’s a big problem for the House to not have at least passed a farm bill version so we could just deal with reconciliation in the lame duck.”
The second big problem with the lame duck, according to Johnson, is the non-farm bill issues that must be dealt with will garner the majority of attention. His worry is that in that bigger debate the farm bill will become a pawn.
What often happens in a lame duck session is all the dicey issues not dealt with prior to election “are all rolled into one big package. They’ll trade this off for that in order to find some sort of grand bargain compromise to vote on. Who knows what could happen to the farm bill in that environment? We may come out just fine but it’s a very risky maneuver.”