Iowa’s five congressmen are urging Republican leaders to schedule an “immediate vote” on the Farm Bill before the U.S. House takes a five-week vacation.
The three Democrats and two Republicans in Iowa’s congressional delegation have sent a letter to House leaders, saying the matter is urgent because while the current Farm Bill expires September 30, federal disaster programs for farmers hit by drought have already lapsed and need to be reauthorized.
Congressman Tom Latham says GOP leaders haven’t scheduled a vote yet on the Farm Bill. The annual “August recess” for congress starts August 5. The House is scheduled to be in Session for just eight days in September. Even if the Farm Bill passes the House in the next week, a compromise version must be worked out with the Senate.
“Obviously there are big differences between the House bill and the Senate bill,” Latham says. “But I think it’s important that we proceed.”
The Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill in June. The House Ag Committee approved its own version in mid-July. Latham, a Republican from Clive, is a close confidant of House Speaker John Boehner. The two men first met in 1995 when both were freshmen in congress and serving on the House Ag Committee.
“I have been doing everything possible, talking with the speaker, with the majority leader, with people on both sides of the aisle to try and get the Farm Bill on the floor,” Latham says. Another Iowa Congressman, Democrat Bruce Braley of Waterloo, authored a letter that was co-signed by all five members of Iowa’s congressional delegation.
In it, the five Iowans told House leaders “the need to extend assistance for farmers gets more urgent every day, given the worsening drought that is blanketing more than half the country.” The group argued “failure to quickly pass a Farm Bill will have a devastating impact” on the ag industry that’s already reeling from the worst drought in decades.