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"House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway is pressing ahead with a Republican-backed farm bill (H.R. 2 (115)), pledging to hold a markup next week with hopes of floor time soon thereafter. The Texas Republican said he was confident he could get the sweeping bill passed despite the fact that Democrats have revolted over the bill's proposal to impose stricter work requirements on millions of food-stamp recipients. “We’re going to get this done," Conaway said Thursday as he introduced the bill flanked by 11 members of the committee. Conaway said his staff would collect amendments until Monday afternoon. "We'll thoughtfully consider each one," he said. The committee is planning to hold a markup Wednesday. Conaway said the Ag Committee would work into the night, then pick up Thursday and work through Friday, if necessary. Conaway said he believes he can persuade members on the policy merits of the farm bill to get the 218 votes he needs for passage. He did not specify when he would bring the bill to the House floor. “Except for the SNAP portion, this is a bipartisan bill," he said. The chairman dismissed criticism that a lack of Democratic support makes the bill vulnerable to amendments that are deeply unpopular to some in the agriculture industry. Urban and suburban Democrats who might not have a strong tie to agriculture may be more likely to back amendments that scrap the sugar program or limit crop insurance subsidies if they aren't behind the broader bill. "Anybody who eats ought to be really in favor of good agricultural programs, whether you're in a big city or not," Conaway said. Conaway was critical of any Democratic efforts to complicate the farm bill out of opposition to the changes in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. "If they intend to use their [voting] card to punish Conaway, I got it, but they've got to go home and justify it to their folks," he said."

Posted April 13th, 2018