House GOP leaders are hoping to win enough support for legislation that would provide emergency drought relief to ranchers before Congress breaks for its month-long August recess.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (Okla.) said the measure would take $300 million from other farm programs to offer ranchers the relief they need as a result of the unusually arid conditions plaguing the nation’s breadbasket. The committee’s ranking member Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said Thursday that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is pushing Lucas to do a one-year extension. GOP leaders are rumored to be floating the idea of using that extension as a vehicle for the emergency relief measure.
Democrats are grimacing at that notion and continue to press Boehner for a floor vote on a farm bill that advanced through committee with broad bipartisan support on July 12. Peterson said he would prefer the House vote on the pending five-year farm bill, but would back a one-year extension if it brought both Houses to conference on a larger bill.
“I’m against doing an extension but it’s OK if it gets us to a point of being able to conference a bill in August,” Peterson told POLITICO.
Lucas, however, is not optimistic that GOP leaders have the votes to pass the committee-approved farm bill and is also skeptical that the votes are there for an extension. Boehner told reporters Thursday that the House is working on an “appropriate path forward,” but refused to offer any further details as to whether the relief would be part of the full farm bill.
“If a final decision has been made, it hasn’t been shared with me,” Lucas said, according to reports.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Friday that the House will have something done before they leave for August and that House Republicans are currently in discussion about whether a drought relief measure will be attached to a larger farm bill.
“Regardless of how this week turns out, there will be something on the drought,” McCarthy said.