Compared to previous Farm Bill shenanigans, the legislative processes behind Farm Bill 2018 has been pretty straightforward and chill. So while I’ve been following them, I haven’t necessarily written about them. Quite frankly, it’s mostly just boring.
But we’ve had some important legislative action that warrants a mention.
Last week, the Senate voted to conference the farm bill with the House. The Senate has put up nine Senators to hash out the details with the 47 House members.
So far, the Senate and House have both passed versions of the Farm Bill, but they are substantially different. The main difference comes on the food stamp side. The House version would require additional work requirements for certain program recipients. The Senate side has no such provision, and mostly keeps everything else the same.
Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to see the conference report shortly after Labor Day. This would allow both houses of Congress to take up a vote by September 30th, McConnell’s deadline. The bill would then head to President Trump’s desk sometime before the midterm election. The timeline has been called ambitious, which I agree with, so I expect it will happen a little later.
Members of the Farm Bill conference have all agreed to keep in touch and continue working throughout the August recess.
What will the final outcome look like? That’s really hard to say right now. With the big changes for SNAP proposed in the House, there is a lot to negotiate. Most analysts give the same provision little chance of passing in the Senate. And yet President Trump tweeted on Friday that the Senate should change its rules if it means getting those changes passed. Will he veto a bill that doesn’t have it? Doubt it. Farm country is already a little angry about his tariffs and the fallout from them, so he probably wouldn’t veto a bill as important as the farm bill just for that reason.
I just know I’m glad I’m not the one that has to navigate a unified bill through both chambers of Congress!
I’ll keep monitoring the progress.