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Senate moves Farm bill to conference committee

Source: Wikimedia Commons

It has finally happened. The United States Senate finally moved to get the 2018 Farm Bill to conference with the U.S. House of Representatives. The move wasn’t without some political wrangling. Wrangling which could foreshadow the debate between the two houses.

Audio: World of Agriculture 

The Senate passed their version of the Farm Bill earlier in July. However, it took until the eleventh hour to get it to a conference. The bill has strong bi-partisan support. This stems from the cooperation of Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). The two were able to get the bill out of committee and passed in the full Senate by a vote of 86-11.

The Senate version of the bill has one glaring difference over the ouse version: work requirements connected to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). While the Senate does offer a few reforms on the program, it is nothing like the House version which ties benefits to work requirements and educational training. Roberts and Stabenow know such reforms would never get the bill through the Senate. But, this fact hasn’t stopped some Senators from trying.

On Tuesday, Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) tried to get a SNAP amendment added. Their amendment would have been even more strict on work requirements than the house version of the bill and forced recipients to show photo ID when making purchases. This amendment was defeated.

This could be a sign of what is to come when the two houses convene a conference committee to hammer out the different bills into one. President Trump supports work requirements connected with SNAP. This may complicate matters if an agreed upon version comes to his desk without those changes. As we enter August, we see a long and uphill battle for the 2018 Farm Bill. A bill which expires on September 30th of this year.