The chairs and ranking members of the agriculture committees in both chambers of Congress remained silent on farm bill progress. The Hagstrom Report says that didn’t stop legislators and lobbyists from discussing the topic in public. Soon-to-be House Ag Chair Collin Peterson says if Congress doesn’t pass the farm bill during the upcoming lame-duck session, he’ll bring it up in January. Peterson says current House Ag Chair Michael Conaway dropped a controversial food stamp provision last week. “I want the ag committee organized as soon as possible so I can take the bill that we have now, pass it in the House, and send it over (to the Senate),” he says. “Even if (Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member Debbie) Stabenow doesn’t get everything she wants, let her vote against it if that’s what she wants to do.”
Peterson thinks that the nutrition title, one of the biggest sticking points in the conference debate, has finally been worked out. Chuck Grassley of Iowa says the farm bill might be added to the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill that Congress has to pass by December 7th. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters that they want the new farm bill to give them needed management reforms.
A dozen Republican lawmakers sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, asking him to send final legislative language on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement to Congress as soon as possible. They want Congress to be able to vote on it before Democrats take control of the House in 2019. A Bloomberg report says the legislators think the final passage of the trade pact will be “much more difficult” in 2019 as Democrats have already asked for revisions. So far, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t shown much interest in dealing with the agreement before the end of the year.
Should the president pursue congressional approval this year, the senators say “we commit to working with you in a consultative manner to draft implementing legislation that will win votes in a majority of the House and Senate.” Bloomberg says the White House declined to comment on the long-shot attempt by the 12 Republicans to get the trade agreement over the finish line. All three countries plan to sign the pact at the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Argentina, which begins on November 30th. The pact requires U.S. congressional approval, as well as approval from lawmakers in both Canada and Mexico.
Source: NAFB News Service