Policy: Entitlements

Farm bill faces unclear future, food stamp separation a possibility

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Beltway Confidential,Agriculture,Entitlements,Ashe Schow,Analysis,Farm Bill,Food Stamps

Last week, the House failed to get enough votes to pass a farm bill. Each side blamed the other, but there were really four reasons members voted against the bill: (1) some members voted against the food stamp cuts, (2) some said the bill didn't cut enough from food stamps, (3) some wanted more farm subsidies, and (4) some wanted fewer farm subsidies.

There has been much speculation since the bill's failure, but there is no clear path currently being discussed by either house of Congress.

During a rules committee meeting, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., a member of the House agriculture subcommittee, proposed splitting the farm bill in two: one part handling food stamps and the other dealing with actual farm policy. A vote to that effect was not allowed, according to Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., who spoke during a monthly press briefing.

Politico reports that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is looking to split the farm bill. However, a senior Republican aide took a more neutral approach, saying, "Cantor believes the best path now is to move forward with a bill that has 218 Republican votes, since Democrats proved they cannot be trusted to work in good faith, and that path may be splitting up the bill."

Huelskamp is skeptical. "I really don't see the leadership going that direction," he said Wednesday. "They haven't telegraphed anything that they plan on doing."

On the Senate side, even less is known. The Senate version of the farm bill passed, and it appears there may be no appetite among Senate conservatives to push for the bill to be split.

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