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Despite House passage, farm bill work far from done

By Jessica Domel

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the 2018 Farm Bill this week, just days after the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly approved its own farm legislation.

Congressman Mike Conaway of Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, said the vote was as tight as GOP leaders thought it would be, and they appreciate everyone who voted to move the process forward.

“I’m now anxiously waiting (Sen.) Pat Roberts’ (chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry) in the Senate,” Conaway said in a recent interview with the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) Radio Network. “I understand he wants to be on the floor (this) week with his bill. Once he gets that done, then we’ll start the conference process.”

The current farm bill expires Sept. 30, but leaders in both the House and the Senate have pushed to move their respective legislation forward over the past few weeks.

“The insiders around would know that an awful lot of folks would have bet against Pat and I not being able to get both bills across each of our floors by the first of July, but if he’s successful (this) week in getting that done, it will be a terrific accomplishment,” Conaway said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he hopes to have the bill passed by the Senate before the Fourth of July holiday, so Congress can begin the sometimes difficult task of bringing the Senate and House legislation into a single bill for the president’s consideration.

“Neither bill will be the one signed by the president,” Conaway said. “It will be a blend of the two, which is the way the process has always worked and will work again this time.”

Conaway said he is hopeful House Democrats, who all voted against the farm bill, will be part of the conferencing process in a meaningful way.

“In the non-SNAP titles, (Congressman) Collin (Peterson) had a lot of things in it he wanted. I expect him to weigh in on those behalf even though he voted twice against the bill,” Conaway said.

Although the rest of the members of the conference committee have not yet been determined, Roberts will lead the committee since House leadership headed up the committee for the last farm bill.

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