The long, torturous journey of the $500 billion federal farm bill took yet another turn Monday, as House GOP leaders proposed a one-year extension to the current bill.
The proposal is highly unlikely to pass, however, because it continues subsidies to farmers known as direct payments. Congressmen from both parties have denounced the practice, and both the Senate-passed version and the House Agriculture Committee's own version do not include the subsidies.
Without congressional re-authorization, the current farm bill on Sept. 30 will expire and automatically revert to the 1949 version of the bill, meaning the expiration or reduction of many programs. The bill is re-authorized every five years but Congress has let it lapse several times before.
Among other changes, the one-year extension would eliminate a desert lakes program favored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), meaning its chances of Senate passage are even lower.
Even House Agriculture Committee member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., the panel's top Democrat, opposes the extension.
The farm bill has already passed a grueling series of votes in the Senate, and House GOP leaders were considering not even bringing it up for a vote until after the November elections. But Congress adjourns for all of August, and members in rural districts have been clamoring for some action to be able to show voters back home.
by RTT Staff Writer
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