Farming in the Swamp

Farming in the Swamp

The U.S. House had planned to take up the 2018 Farm Bill this week…it’s a vital piece of legislation for folks in this part of the country, of course. In the past, the bill has lumped together food production with food distribution…in other words, the provisions designed to help agribusiness were combined with provisions to provide food stamps and related programs, not because they’re really related, but because there wasn’t a majority that could be built to pass either bill alone.

This year’s proposed bill would require recipients of welfare benefits to work or go to school if they are able. That meant many on the political left were against the bill, so it was going to be a close vote, pretty much along party lines.

The led the House Freedom Caucus to leverage its voting bloc, telling House leadership that its members would only vote for the Farm Bill if an immigration bill was passed first. As Friday morning dawned in D.C., without the Freedom Caucus fully behind it, the Farm Bill would not have the votes to pass. But House leadership has been fending off attempts to slide an immigration bill in all week, and this demand was yet another challenge to a lame duck Speaker, and a test for his heir apparent.

There have already been enough amendments made to the House version of the Farm Bill that even if it passes, it has critics in the Senate, including Iowa’s Charles Grassley.

I can’t blame a voting bloc like the Freedom Caucus for exerting its muscle to get what it wants. But from a distance, it looks like more of the swamp at work…holding one piece of legislation hostage in order to get an unrelated piece passed.

The only good thing is that this discussion is coming in May as opposed to the day before the current Farm Bill expires. But given the schedule of when Congress is actually in session, especially during an election year…it may already be too late to pull off, with shenanigans on all sides.

And that’s the Iowa Politics report for Friday, May 18, 2018, on Twitter and Instagram, @iowapolitics. Listen to today’s segment here: