Last week’s passage of a nutrition bill in the House of Representatives has raised hopes that the stalled farm bill process can be restarted. But many Capitol Hill watchers say the fate of the farm bill is still far from clear.
According to a politico.com report, the first step is for the House to vote on a procedural motion to marry the newly-approved nutrition title with the rest the farm bill already sent to the Senate in July. It’s the first of several administrative hurdles that must be cleared before a House-Senate farm bill conference can take place.
And we’re still waiting for House Speaker John Boehner to appoint farm bill conferees, even though he promised last week that it would happen “soon”.
Assuming a farm bill conference eventually takes place, the next big question is whether House and Senate conferees will be able to reach agreement on cuts to the food stamp program. The 39 billion dollars in food stamp savings approved by the House is nearly ten times what the Senate has recommended over the next ten years. Some pundits predict a compromise at around ten billion dollars. But if that were the case, it’s still uncertain whether House Republicans will accept that level of cuts if and when the farm bill comes back to the House for a final vote.