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Posts in "farm bill"
August 4, 2014
Marlin Stutzman knows how to plant seeds.
When the Indiana Republican mounted his campaign for majority whip, it was such a long shot he didn’t expect to win — at least not this time.
No one else really expected Stutzman to prevail in the three-way leadership contest, either. But he’s looking years down the road, and is glad he took the gamble.
“Some people are afraid to lose. … Sometimes you have to lose in order to build something for the future,” Stutzman told CQ Roll Call during an hourlong interview in his 7th floor Longworth office.
It’s a lesson he knows well, as a member who entered the House in November 2010 after losing the Indiana Republican Senate primary to Dan Coats in May of that year.
Stutzman, who calls himself “an overachieving farmer,” didn’t see much downside to running and losing. This race was more about getting his name out there to let his colleagues know he’s interested in leadership.
His goal was to build relationships within the GOP conference. Stutzman said a lesson he learned from his scramble into leadership elections was that the conference is not as divided as many think, that the differences are more over strategy than policy.
So what does Stutzman want? The fourth-generation soybean, green bean and seed corn farmer doesn’t exactly seem to know.
February 7, 2014
In his Rayburn office on Capitol Hill, Rep. Steve Scalise has a case of triumphs.
The Louisiana Republican exhibits an impressive array of corks under glass in a custom-made display-box coffee table. Each was popped from a Champagne bottle to mark a momentous occasion: averting the New Year’s 2013 fiscal cliff, personal achievements such as becoming chairman of the Republican Study Committee and local legislative milestones such as funding for the Gulf Coast recovery.
A Sharpie pen marks the date of consumption, and the corks rest near small gold plates inscribed with the events that called for the bubbly.
With more than a dozen in all, Scalise hopes he’ll add to the collection in the months he has left before the end of his term leading the influential RSC.
Scalise’s broad mission, he told CQ Roll Call, is “to help move leadership to a more conservative place.”
And while that could easily be the stated goal of every RSC chairman, Scalise now has an even bigger task before him: offering the American voting public a glimpse of what kind of policy Congress could send to the president’s desk if only there were a Republican Senate to help.
“It’s important what we do the rest of the year,” Scalise said in the course of two more-than-20-minute sit-down interviews. “I want us to be bold.”
The White House invited 50 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to travel aboard Air Force One to the farm bill signing in Michigan, but no Republicans accepted, Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Friday.
“This was a bipartisan effort and everyone involved in it deserves credit,” Carney said, adding that reporters would have to ask lawmakers why they declined to go on the trip with the president.
January 29, 2014
Updated 2:31 p.m. | Almost six months after the farm bill went down on the floor in partisan flames and GOP whip counts necessitated a variety of political maneuvers just to get the measure to conference, the House on Wednesday morning finally passed a five-year reauthorization of the nation’s agriculture and nutrition programs.
The fiercely negotiated farm bill conference report cleared the threshold for passage. Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow, one of the key negotiators of the conference report, was on the House floor during the vote. The final vote was 251-166. Full story
January 28, 2014
A new narrative against taking up an immigration overhaul is forming in House conservative circles: Just look at the farm bill.
Some Republicans feel they were steamrolled by the farm bill conference report — a five-year, $1 trillion bill that will see House action on Wednesday — and it is now giving them pause about passing immigration bills in the House.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., raised the concern Tuesday in a closed-door conference meeting of the conservative Republican Study Committee. The House passed agriculture legislation that split what he called the “unholy alliance” of agriculture and nutrition policy, namely the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps. Full story
January 9, 2014
Speaker John A. Boehner predicted Thursday that he’ll win a fight over dairy regulations in the farm bill.
“I am confident that the conference report will not include supply management in the dairy program,” the Ohio Republican told reporters at his weekly news conference. Full story
January 8, 2014
Democrats may have taken up income inequality as their election-year campaign platform, but Republicans appear determined to not let their counterparts own the subject.
To the annoyance of some Democrats, six members of the conservative Republican Study Committee held a news conference Wednesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the “war on poverty” and to call for a different tactic to address indigence in this nation — one that is leaner on direct aid and more robust in job creation.
“While this war may have been launched with the best of intentions, it’s clear we’re now engaged in a battle of attrition that has left more Americans in poverty than at any other point in our nation’s history,” Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., said at the beginning of the news conference, noting that more than 46 million Americans live in poverty today. He did not point out, however, that even though the raw number of poverty-stricken people has increased, the percentage of poor Americans has fallen from 19 percent when President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his “unconditional war on poverty” in 1964 to about 15 percent today.
Southerland, the chairman of the RSC’s anti-poverty initiative, said that in the 50 years of the war on poverty, the government has spent more than $15 trillion on programs designed to combat those issues.
“Clearly, the big government ideas of the past need to be improved and aren’t working to the extent that they should,” Southerland said. ”We have a moral obligation to break the mold.”
Southerland said there were three pillars to fighting poverty: two-parent families, quality education and a stable job.
“Over the next year, we will be bringing interested members together to discuss conservative solutions that empower individuals and not the federal government,” he said. Full story
January 3, 2014
The House will have a busy January judging by the lengthy legislative agenda Majority Leader Eric Cantor circulated among his colleagues on Friday.
The Virginia Republican’s memo, obtained by 218, lays out the obvious items of business: passing conference reports for the farm bill and for legislation funding the nation’s water programs, plus an appropriations bill for the remainder of fiscal 2014.
The GOP-run House will also continue to assail the president’s health care law, starting next week with a measure to address potential security breaches on HealthCare.gov. Cantor released a memo on that specific priority on Thursday.
Cantor also told lawmakers to familiarize themselves with other initiatives that could come to the floor in the weeks ahead, such as a possible Iran sanctions resolution that has been on the back-burner since late last year.
December 30, 2013
This year, doing the business of the People’s House was, at best, a struggle. It’s well-known that 2013 was, legislatively, the least productive session in congressional history. Leaders strained to get to 218 — a majority in the 435-seat House (in case you had no idea where the blog name came from). And there were some pretty notable news stories as a result of all this congressional dysfunction.
But as painful as the year was for members, covering the House was a pleasure, one which we here at 218 only had the honor of doing for about half the year.
In that short time, 218 — or “Goppers,” as we were formerly known, which rhymes with “Whoppers,” for all you still wondering about that — had more than a few favorite stories.
Among the labors of love, there was a piece about the 10 Republicans who could one day be speaker, a story on an internal August playbook that went out to House Republicans telling them to profess how they were fighting Washington, and a piece (in response to his “calves the size of cantaloupes” comment) asking the question: How do you solve a problem like Steve King? Full story
December 6, 2013
No news is, well, news, as Congress nears pressing deadlines to reach a budget deal and pass a farm bill — and there doesn’t appear to be an agreement for either one, at least before Monday.
House GOP aides familiar with the status of both negotiations say conferees will continue to talk in the days ahead, but there are no formal scheduled meetings at the moment.
“We’re waiting on some of the proposals that were discussed Wednesday to be scored and then they’ll reassess accordingly,” said a House GOP aide familiar with the farm bill negotiations. The top four farm bill conferees met on Wednesday and described the meeting as “productive.” Full story
December 5, 2013
The chairman of the House Agriculture Committee reiterated Thursday that it would be correct to say he doesn’t want to see a one-month extension of existing farm programs, but he stopped well short of saying House and Senate conferees had an agreement.
“I think it’s fair to say in a number of areas we are moving towards consensus. I’m not comfortable enough yet just to say what those consensus points are,” Rep. Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., told reporters.
Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said earlier in the day that he had ”not seen any real progress,” and the House would be prepared to move forward with a one-month stopgap farm bill.
Speaker John A. Boehner tempered expectations for deals on the budget and the farm bill Thursday, saying neither issue appears to be poised for conclusion.
At his weekly press conference, the Ohio Republican told reporters “there’s clearly no agreement” on a budget from the two chief negotiators, House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. Their self-imposed deadline to reach a deal is Dec. 13, and sources indicated on Wednesday that an agreement could be announced in the coming days.
Boehner didn’t say whether he planned to move forward with passing a short-term continuing resolution next week to float government funding past Jan. 15, though he told his members last week that he would do so if necessary in order to take the threat of another government shutdown off the table.
As for the farm bill, Boehner said, “I’ve not seen any real progress,” and signaled that the House was prepared to pass a one-month extension of current funding for agriculture and nutrition programs to buy farm bill conferees more time. Full story
December 4, 2013
One day after Speaker John A. Boehner told Senate Democrats to “get serious” about negotiations over the farm bill and a budget agreement, the Ohio Republican gave a defensive speech on the House floor blaming Democrats for Congress’ lack of legislative accomplishments this year.
“The Senate and the president continue to stand in the way of the American people’s priorities,” Boehner said. “When will they learn to say ‘yes’ to common ground? When will they start listening to the American people?”
Boehner seemed to be responding to various news reports that the first year of the 113th Congress has been the least productive in modern congressional history.
That will likely still be true even if Congress is able to craft a budget agreement, as well as a farm bill deal before leaving town for the holidays. The top four farm bill conference committee members are scheduled to meet Wednesday and budget negotiators have until Dec. 13 to deliver a budget agreement for fiscal 2014.
December 3, 2013
If Speaker John A. Boehner’s comments are any signal, talks between the House and Senate to craft a farm bill and budget are in trouble with less than two weeks left in the legislative session.
“We can’t defend the Democrats to the point of saying ‘yes,’” Boehner said Tuesday morning.
“It is time for the other chamber to get serious about getting this work done,” the Ohio Republican added.
Boehner argued that House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas, R-Okla., had made “nothing but a good-faith effort” to reach consensus with Senate Democrats in a farm bill conference. And yet, with less than two legislative weeks left in this year’s session, a farm bill agreement doesn’t appear near. Full story
October 30, 2013
Farm bill conferees spent more than three hours on Wednesday promising to work with each to reauthorize crucial farm and food aid programs, but some House Republicans are already throwing up potential roadblocks to a House-Senate deal.
Midway through the first bipartisan, bicameral meeting of the conference committee, 27 House Republicans — led by Indiana GOP Rep. Marlin Stutzman — issued a press release calling on the conferees to retain the two-bill farm bill strategy, deployed when the chamber could not pass a comprehensive farm bill earlier this year with 218 GOP votes.
“As you know, for decades the reauthorization bills for farm policy and food stamp policy have combined together,” the members argued in the letter. “As a combined piece of legislation, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected the Senate Farm Bill to cost nearly one trillion dollars over ten years — with an astonishing 80 percent of this spending going towards the food stamp program. This kind of ‘Farm Bill’ can hardly be called a Farm Bill at all.”
The move was heralded by outside conservative advocacy groups like Heritage Action for America and Club for Growth, which happily took credit for the defeat of the first farm bill in the House.
But it was also enormously controversial. No Democrats in the House supported the maneuver, which ultimately cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, by $40 billion as compared with the Senate’s reduction of just $4 billion.
And splitting farm programs from food stamps is almost certain to be a non-starter for Senate negotiators, who seemed to acknowledge as much Wednesday.