Common Ground: Senate Farm Bill

07/02/2018 04:26 PM

WASHINGTON- It’s not very often anymore that the Senate is able to come together to pass legislation on a wide bipartisan manner. But that’s just what happened last week—when the Senate passed their version of the 20-18 farm bill, easily sailing through with a vote of 81 to 11.

The Senate version of the $428 billion bill is being praised by farmers, environmentalists and hemp advocates alike.

The measure will authorize for five years a wide range of programs ranging from nutrition assistance and much needed farm subsidies for rural development and agricultural research. The bill aims at providing a safety net for farmers as they deal with low prices and worsening weather conditions.

The bill also creates various programs, like a rural broadband internet program, and of course the much talked about hemp farming act—which removes hemp from the controlled substance list, paving the way for farmers to begin planting more industrial hemp. The bill also targets improving water infrastructure and providing funds to combat the growing opioid epidemic in the country.

The Senate version makes minimal changes to the food stamp program—instead only making administrative changes to help prevent fraud within the $70 billion program.

While speaking at the Republican state executive committee meeting over the weekend Sen. Mitch McConnell spoke about the next steps for the bill.

“We will now go to conference with the House, even though the House doesn’t have the hemp provisions in it I’m pretty optimistic they will adopt the Senate provisions “ McConnell said. “I’m hoping we are going to it to the President in the next couple months.”

What McConnell failed to mention is the key difference between the Senate and the house version—a controversial change to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—or the food stamp program—that would add on work requirements to recipients.

Democrats have come out vigorously against this—causing the party to not put a single “yes” vote on the House version of the bill that narrowly passed with two votes to spare. The changes to food stamps proposed by the house could affect between five and seven million people.

When the two sides meet to iron out the differences in their two bills—it is likely this conversation will take center stage. But—two senators responsible for the crafting of the farm bill have said the SNAP work requirements have no chance of receiving sixty votes on the senate floor.

So while the Senate was easily able to come together to reach a bipartisan deal—it will become much harder once Congress gets back in session next week.

Watch the segment:

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at michon.lindstrom@charter.com

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