“All people are asking for is just a little help,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said Thursday of the absence of food assistance programs in the Republican farm bill.
Underscoring the widening divide, members of the Congressional Black Caucus actively protested the bill, and Democrats used delay tactics and adjournment motions to convey their displeasure.
Traditionally, farm bill authors have combined the farm and nutrition components as a way to rally a combined rural and urban coalition behind the costly legislation. Over 10 years, the Senate’s unified bill has a projected price tag of about $955 billion, with nutrition and food stamp programs accounting for about three-quarters of the total.
Selected House and Senate negotiators will now convene to work out their differences, if they can. There are many details to resolve, but the biggest challenge is likely to be efforts to reconcile the Senate’s proposed $4 billion in nutrition cuts with the House’s $20 billion.
“The farm bill,” said Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., a member of the House Agriculture Committee, “is usually one of the most bipartisan things we do around here. Not today.”