Republican Congressman Steve King predicts congress will pass a new, five-year Farm Bill, but it won’t be before the current one-year extension expires October 1.
“Congress is not going to allow this to fall back to the permanent law from 1949. It’s unworkable. It’s unaffordable and nobody wants it,” King said this morning. “That puts pressure on us, though, to reach an agreement. That part of it is a good thing.”
The U.S. Senate has passed a five-year Farm Bill with bipartisan support last year and again this year, but the legislation has bogged down in Republican-led House. Earlier this summer the House split the bill in two and House Republicans passed the half that dealt with farm policy. Last week House Republicans passed the other half, dealing with food stamps and other federal nutrition programs. Those two bills have to be merged into one before anything else can happen.
“This is all procedural. I think we get that done this week and I expect that sometime in about a week the speaker will name the conferees and we will have already gone to work sorting out the differences,” King said.
King is a member of the House Ag Committee and the leader of the subcommittee that drafted the proposed $40 billion in cuts to the food stamp program. King is not predicting he’ll be one of the House members appointed to negotiate the final deal with the senate, however.
“I’ve sat on the ag committee as long as anybody there with the exception of the current chair and the past chair and so that should be a likely thing, but that’s the discretion of Speaker Boehner,” King said. “I wouldn’t want to make any presumptions and let him put the list out.”
Earlier this summer House Speaker John Boehner — the man who’ll appoint the group to work on the final Farm Bill version — delivered a very public rebuke of King for comments King made about illegal immigrants.
The House Majority PAC — supporting Democrats running for congress — posted a video on the internet today, blasting King for “eating like a king” during an overseas congressional trip, while pushing for food stamp cuts here at home. The video features comments Congresswoman Jackie Speier — a Democrat from California — made last week during House debate. She criticized the nearly $3600 bill for food and lodging that King racked up during a trip to Russia.
“He probably drank a fair amount of vodka and probably even had some caviar,” Speier said. “(King) has 21,000 food stamp recipients in his district. One of those people who is on food stamps could live a year on what this congressman spent on food and lodging for six days.”
King was in Russia in June, part of a congressional trip financed by taxpayers. This past week King and other House Republicans voted to cut 40 billion dollars out of the food stamp program over the next 10 years. That’s double what they proposed earlier this year and about 10 times as much as the cuts outlined in the Farm Bill that passed the Senate this summer.
Over 400,000 Iowans receive food stamps — now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.
(Reporting by Dan Skelton, KICD, Spencer; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)