Oh, how these things go around.
First, a quick recap. The 2008 Farm Bill was set to expire at the end of 2012. At midnight (or shortly thereafter), on December 31, 2012, Congress passed an extension that would keep the 2008 Farm Bill alive until today. On June 10, 2013, the Senate passed the 2013 Farm Bill that included provisions for both farm programs and also food stamps. Unfortunately, the House was unable to do the same and the bill was defeated. On July 11, 2013, the House went back to the Farm Bill and managed to pass half of it — the farm program half. However, the President and Senate quickly dismissed this as DOA without the food stamp program. Later, the House passed a food stamp bill which cut $40billion from the now existing law (the Senate version only cut $4billion).
Now, quite frankly, I could care less if food stamp programs are passed alongside the farm bill. And the farm bill doesn’t really resolve that — food stamps will get paid regardless if the agriculture community gets anything. However, for political reasons, it may be very beneficial for us to keep the two bills joined. In this particular case, especially, we need both parts to even conference with Senate and try to come up with one bill.
Thankfully, late Friday night, the House voted to join the two versions of the bill. (Here is the vote tally if you want to keep track.) It will now have to go into conference with the Senate to fix up the differences and make the bill passable in both chambers.
But, as of right now, by midnight tonight we will revert back to the 1949 Farm Bill, which includes all sorts of fun stuff, such as the “dairy cliff” ($8/gallon milk; anyone?).
Meanwhile, if you don’t remember why the Farm Bill is important, here is an article I’ve done previously discussing it.
I will try to update with any new information as the day goes on.