A Farm Bill remains hung up in Congress as current agricultural legislation nears its expiration date.
A Farm Bill has been passed by the Senate. The House Agriculture Committee approved its own version and sent it to the full House for debate. House leadership has yet to bring the bill to the floor for debate. The current Farm Bill expires at the end of the month.
Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat, blames House Republican leadership for the lack of progress.
“They’re holding agriculture hostage,” Nelson says. “The farmers and ranchers in Nebraska should be outrage at the leadership in the House; outraged.”
But Sen. Mike Johanns comes to the defense of his fellow Republicans, insisting that House leadership hasn’t forced the issue, because the votes simply aren’t there.
“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to bring a bill to the floor if you know your bill isn’t going to get to the finish line,” according to Johanns. “And that’s what they’re doing.”
Johanns suggests Congress pass temporary disaster assistance, a suggestion Nelson flatly rejects.
Johanns, though, insists it makes sense. He argues that the temporary assistance the House approved before Congress left Washington for its extended August recess provides the funding for disaster assistance that ran out a year ago. Johanns says that bill would help farmers in the Corn Belt recover from the losses they suffered from the summer-long drought.
Nelson sees it as another attempt by Congress to “kick the can down the road”. Nelson worries that if Congress approves the temporary fix, they will lack motivation to complete work on the Farm Bill. He also says farmers cannot make planting decisions on a three or even a six-week extension. Nelson calls the attempt a “non-starter”.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]