House Leadership Signal Again Action on Farm Bill But No Specifics

On Friday, the U.S. House Leaders from both political parties had an exchange on the floor of the U.S. House regarding the fate of the 2012 farm bill.  (An excerpt from the November 30 Congressional Record is below.) During the exchange House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) again reiterated that House leaders plan to take up “the issue in and around the farm bill,” but again he gave no specifics on whether or not the action would include passing a new 5-year farm bill or extending the 2008 farm bill that expired September 30 this year.

With no time left to enact (and for that matter implement) a new 5-year farm bill, pretty much everyone inside the beltway is beginning to conclude that some type of an extension of the 2008 farm bill is inevitable.  Frank Lucas, (R-OK) Chairman of the US House Agriculture Committee reiterated last week that the farm bill may be written early in 2013 as part of a budget reconciliation process that would enact a budget agreement replacing the tax increases and spending reductions that would occur under current law (fiscal cliff).  Senator Kent Conrad, (D-ND) Chairman of the US Senate Budget Committee is reported to be working on a similar plan.

Collin Peterson (D-MN) Ranking Member of the US House Agriculture Committee remains adamantly opposed to any type of extension of the 2008 farm bill for legitimate fears of further reductions to the agriculture budget baseline that the Congressional Budget Office will release in early March 2013.

Excerpt from Congressional Record, Friday, November 30, 2012:

Mr. HOYER (Minority Leader, D-MD). Let me move on, if I can, because there are a couple of other issues.

I know the gentleman indicated that you didn’t include one. I think you did include the farmbill . Could you tell me what you think of the status of the farmbill ? Again, we have an issue where the farmbill passed 64-35 in the Senate; 16 Republicans voted for it. And very frankly, the farmbill in this House passed out of your committee 35-11 on a bipartisan vote. That’s not been brought to the floor.

Could the gentleman tell me what he thinks is going to happen to the farmbill ?

Mr. CANTOR (Majority Leaders, R-VA). Madam Speaker, I would tell the gentleman that both the Speaker and I have both said that we will deal with the issue of the farmbill or the issue in and around the farmbill before leaving this year.

I would tell the gentleman it is our sense that the farmbill , in being brought to the floor in regular order, does not have the votes to pass this House. And we understand the importance of the issues surrounding the farmbill and working with Chairman Lucas and others.

But on both sides of the Capitol, we look forward to hopefully reaching some type of resolution on issues surrounding the farmbill prior to leaving this year.

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for that response; and I am hopeful that we can, in fact, proceed on that for the farmers of America.

Obviously if we don’t pass something by December 31, on January 1 prices for the Federal Government will go up very dramatically, as the gentleman knows; and it will have an impact on spending. And I know the gentleman and I are both concerned about that.

Tim Cansler