House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, could block consideration of the farm bill in the House of Representatives, delaying action on legislation that provides funding for farmers and food stamp recipients.
According to a report in The Hill, Boehner is personally opposed to the farm bill, and is concerned about defections within his Republican caucus.
“Every time he has had the choice to bring up a bipartisan bill and face a large defection, he has decided not to,” said a lobbyist quoted in the article. “I donít see him risking embarrassment for a farm bill.”
Boehner has not yet taken any steps to block the bill, but he hasn’t had to yet. The bill, which is co-sponsored by House Agriculture Committee Chair Frank Lucas, R-Ohio, and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., will get its mark-up in committee on Wednesday.
A companion bill in the Senate passed in June by a 64-35 margin. The House had been under pressure to act on legislation, as current farm spending authorizations expire in September.
The bill doesn’t just cover aid to farmers. The farm bill also covers billions of dollars in food aid to poor families. Democrats have been divided over the House bill, which would cut $16.5 billion from the Supplemental Nutritional Aid Program.
Boehner may be looking to delay action in order to gamble on Republican gains in the November elections. A more conservative House of Representatives, and more important, a GOP-led Senate could produce a bill with even more cuts in aid to the poor and support for farmers.†Congress could pass a temporary extension of the current funding to avoid a catastrophic cut-off of government spending.
Peterson, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said that Democrats will benefit if Boehner and House Republicans do not take up the bill.
“Voters are going to know who screwed this up,” he said.
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore