Sen. Chuck Grassley visits with voters about the Farm Bill gridlock in Washington.
CARROLL, Iowa (KTIV) -
One of the top priorities for members of the U.S House will be the farm bill when lawmakers return from their August recess on September 10th.
A version passed the Senate before the August recess. But, the House didn't debate it's own version before lawmakers left town. Now, the clock is ticking to pass the new bill, or an extension of the existing one.
As Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, travels the state to visit all 99 counties, the conversation in corn and bean country usually turns to the farm bill. The Senate did its part by passing its version in July. But, the full House has yet to debate it. And, Grassley says something has to be done soon. Sen. Charles Grassley, (R) Iowa says "It's very, very important that it pass, not before the election, but before September 30th." That's when the current farm bill expires.
If that happens, Grassley says, policy will turn back the hands of time for farmers. Sen. Charles Grassley, (R) Iowa says, "Every farm bill since the 1950s has been an amendment to the 1949 farm bill. Now when the 2008 farm bill sunsets, then you go back to 1949. Obviously 1949 farm legislation isn't applicable to the 21st century."
As Grassley sees it, the House has only two choices... pass a one-year extension of the current bill, or pass the proposed 5-year bill. Congresswoman Kristi Noem prefers that latter. Rep. Kristi Noem, (R) South Dakota says, "Our farmers deserve the certainty that the five-year bill can bring."
That said, there's still disagreement. Sen. John Thune, (R) South Dakota says, "You've got Republicans, who say it spends too much, and you've got Democrats who say it doesn't spend enough particularly in the area of food stamps." 80% of the farm bill pays for food stamps, or what's called SNAP... the supplemental nutrition assistance program. Thune calls the bill a "tough needle to thread" through the House. Sen. John Thune, (R) South Dakota says, "What's holding it up, I think, is that they don't have the votes to pass it."
But, there's movement, Grassley says. Sen. Charles Grassley, (R) Iowa says "There's more of a consensus this year over what needs to be done, and I think it can be done during that period of time." How much time? When lawmakers come back September 10th, they'll have just 20 calendar days to get something done.
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