Farm bill fate uncertain in lame duck session

by Jay Sjerven
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WASHINGTON — Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Majority Leader, quickened some Washington pulses on Oct. 25 when a statement he made while campaigning in Idaho for the reelection of Representative Raul Labrador was construed as suggesting he intended to bring the farm bill passed by the House Committee of Agriculture to the House floor for a vote during the lame duck session that begins Nov. 13.

Mr. Cantor was quoted in the Idaho Statesman as saying he delayed action on the farm bill before the congressional recess because “we didn’t have the votes on the floor.” He added, “I’m committed to bring the issue to the floor and then to see a way forward so we can get the votes to pass a bill.”

The Idaho Statesman highlighted the statement in an article under the headline: “House Majority Leader Eric Cantor promises vote on stalled farm bill.”

Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, welcomed the news that seemed to indicate a vote on the House farm bill was imminent.

But Mr. Cantor’s spokeswoman, Megan Whittmore, the next day said the Majority Leader meant only that the farm bill “issue” would be considered during the lame duck session. He was not promising a vote on the House agriculture committee bill. The Republican caucus in the House was split on the farm bill with more conservative members wanting a farm bill with much less spending than the bill that was passed by the agriculture committee.

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