Yarmuth says farm bill held up over food stamps; Congress in the dark on fiscal cliff negotiations

12/16/2012 08:53 PM

U.S. House and Senate legislators aren’t just under deadline pressure over the fiscal cliff. They’re running out of time to come to a compromise on the farm bill — a bundle of legislation that sets policy on SNAP, also known as food stamps, and subsidies for farmers.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warned federal lawmakers last week that the price of milk could spike if action is not taken before the end of the year, according to politico

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, said congressional negotiators have been meeting for months trying to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the farm bill, and the biggest hang-up seems to be the SNAP program.

“Republicans want to make significant cuts in the program i think something like $37 billion over 10 years, the Senate bill was somewhere around $15-16 Billion in cuts which is a considerable difference and that’s probably the main hang up,” Yarmuth said at 6:47 in the interview with Pure Politics on Friday.

Yarmuth said one likely solution is to pass a short-term extension on the farm bill to buy time to negotiate terms of an agreement in the 113th Congress, which starts in January.

Kentucky’s only Democratic representative returning to Congress next year also offered a glimpse into what rank-and-file members of Congress are learning about the negotiations on the fiscal cliff — essentially the same as what the public knows.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said basically the same thing during a speech to the Kentucky Farm Bureau on Dec. 7.

“I know that there are at least 534 Senators and Representatives sitting around and waiting to be told what’s happening,” Yarmuth said.

In the meantime Yarmuth said there has been a lack of movement on anything, “over the last two weeks we’ve been in session – where we could actually do business – about three and a half days that’s all in two weeks.”

And Yarmuth suggested a possible reason why there has been so little movement. He said U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, “he has cancelled days of business I think to get his own members, the Republicans out of town so they might not try to sabotage what he’s negotiating.” (1:46 in the interview)

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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