Congress apparently has reached an agreement to fund the federal government and raise its self-imposed debt limit, and President Obama has indicated he will sign it. This will lift a 16-day government shutdown as well as the threat of a government credit default. But that’s not the only logjam that’s being cleared in our nation’s capital.
The long-stalled Farm Bill is now moving to a conference committee, and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) is among those who will serve on the panel. The committee is charged with working out the differences between House and Senate versions of the bill, which both passed several months ago. The biggest difference concerns cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps.
The Senate bill offers relatively modest cuts to SNAP of about $400 million, whereas the House version would cut $4 billion, or about 10 times more. If the committee can agree on a unified bill, then both the House and Senate can consider sending it to the president’s desk. Schrader told the Capital Press he was optimistic there will be an agreement, but that it depends on the amount of Tea Party involvement. “If the speaker allows the Senate and House conferees to do the job they’re appointed to do, we can get it done,” he said. “If it becomes a Tea Party issue, we’re doomed.”
U.S. Rep. Suzanne DelBene (D-Wash.) is the other Northwest legislator on the panel. DelBene echoed Schrader’s optimism and pointed out that the House originally developed a version of the Farm Bill that had bipartisan support. Both Schrader and DelBene are members of the House Agriculture Committee.