October 31, 2014

King says congress at an “impasse” over Farm Bill

Republican Congressman Steve King admits there’s a chance congress cannot come up with a compromise on the Farm Bill.

“At this point, I don’t know if we can do it,” King says.

The U.S. Senate approved its draft of the Farm Bill earlier this month, but the House version of the Farm Bill was defeated last week — losing by a significant margin. King and others on the House Ag Committee are trying to craft changes in the legislation that would win votes.

“Talking about our strategy about how to put this all back together again,” King says, “to see if we can.”

Sixty-two House Republicans voted no and 24 Democrats in the House voted for the Farm Bill. King says each needs to be approached to see what might change their vote, because if they make changes to accommodate Republicans’ concerns that might cause some Democrats who had supported the bill to oppose it.

“Balancing a teeter-totter, so to speak,” King says, “and trying to get that fulcrum in just the right place so we can get 218 votes.”

All four of Iowa’s congressmen voted for the Farm Bill last week, but the legislation fell 23 votes short of the 218 needed for passage. King warns increasing cuts in the food and nutrition part of the Farm Bill — reducing so-called food stamp benefits — would likely gain Republican votes, but fewer Democrats would support that.

“So it is an impasse right now and it’s going to have to be finely tuned,” King says.

King made his comments during an interview on Iowa Public Radio’s “River to River” program.

Iowa’s two Democratic congressmen — Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack — took steps this week to introduce the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill in the House. Loebsack and Braley point to the “strong bipartisan” vote on the Farm Bill in the Senate, but King predicts the Farm Bill that passed the Democratically controlled Senate would fail by an even larger margin in the Republican-led House.

Congress could not forge a new five-year Farm Bill by last year’s September 30 deadline, so a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill was passed late last year. That one-year extension expires this September 30.