Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he and Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., "would speak to [House Speaker John] Boehner about the bill in the coming days," reports Amanda Peterka of Environment & Energy News,(a subscription-only service). "He's a practical guy. He's a friend of mine," Peterson said of Boehner. "Next week I'll go over and see him. We'll have a little talk. I think at the end, I'm predicting ... the last week before we leave, this will be on the floor."
Boehner's office has said the floor schedule is controlled by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who is allied with more conservative members seeking bigger cuts in food stamps, which account for about 80 percent of the bill's spending.
"GOP leaders are worried about a messy floor fight over divisive regional policies months before voters head to the ballot boxes," Sherman writes. "Odd couples could abound: The far left and far right would likely vote against the bill on the floor, the former thinking the bill cuts too much from food stamps, the latter insisting cuts aren’t deep enough. There’s also division over how much the government should be subsidizing the farm industry and whether it should control commodity prices. Arguing complex farm policy on the House floor in this political climate gives many Republican members pause. If the House can’t pass a bill, then it would go into negotiations with the Senate with a weak negotiating stance."
Sherman's colleague David Rogers writes, "The timing is crucial if the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are to have any hope of negotiating a final package before the current farm program expires Sept. 30," David Rogers reports for Politico. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., told him, "We're not sure we could get the votes for an extension." Rogers writes, "The House floor debate could indeed be messy, but to do nothing would mean walking away from farm states months before the November elections."
There were more signs yesterday of a fractious floor debate, as two Democrats who withdrew major amendments on energy and conservation during committee markup of the bill said they would keep pressing their cases. Rep.Leonard Boswell of Iowa "pledged to continue fighting for mandatory funding" for programs that "help rural landowners make energy efficiency improvements, fund renewable energy projects and plant biofuel crops," Peterka reports. "At the markup, Boswell withdrew the amendment after committee leaders promised to work with him on the issue."
Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota "said he plans to continue working on adding a provision to the bill that limits crop insurance subsidies on newly tilled land" nationwide, not just in the Prairie Pothole region, Peterka reports. Walz said he withdrew the amendment because he was afraid of disrupting the 'fragile coalition' that [Chairman Frank] Lucas put together to move the provision forward on a regional basis.