Farm Bill

California Wildfires Headed to Capitol Hill
Funding fire suppression a looming issue

A firefighting helicopter drops water as the Holy Fire burns near homes on Friday in Lake Elsinore, California. Wildfires continue to burn in the state. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Lawmakers thought they fixed the U.S. Forest Service’s “fire borrowing” problem earlier this year. But the breadth and intensity of fires scorching the West this year is likely to prompt the agency to raid other accounts one last time before budgetary changes go into effect in fiscal 2020.

The issue could come to a head once again on Capitol Hill in the coming weeks and months, as lawmakers and the administration weigh the need for another infusion of taxpayer dollars ahead of the midterm elections — and California’s devastating fires have already become a campaign issue.

Pot Business Expected to Boom, Lighting Up Pressure on Lawmakers
More that a dozen states expected to expand legalization by 2025, report says

Secret Service block pro-marijuana protesters from carrying their 51-foot inflated marijuana joint down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With marijuana legalization measures expected to pass in 13 more states by 2025, the legal pot market would reach more than $30 billion, according to an industry report released Thursday. 

The trend is bound to increase pressure on lawmakers to stake positions on one of the country’s most rapidly evolving social issues — the legalization of pot and cannabis — according to the report from New Frontier Data, a nonpartisan market research firm. 

Mitch McConnell Is Already Running for Re-Election — In 2020
Formally announced his plans in Kentucky on Saturday

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday that he will seek re-election in 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proved again this weekend he won’t be caught asleep at the wheel when it comes to his own campaigns in Kentucky.

McConnell formally announced Saturday his plans to seek a seventh term, speaking at a Republican breakfast in western Kentucky ahead of the Fancy Farm picnic, which is the bipartisan political event of the year in the commonwealth.

McConnell Hopeful Farm Bill Conference Report Ready for Vote After Labor Day
Treatment of work requirements under SNAP an issue

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says he is hopeful a farm bill conference report will be ready for a vote after Labor Day. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate agreed by voice vote Tuesday to go conference with the House to negotiate a new version of the farm bill before the current legislation expires, even if that means working through the summer recess.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he was hopeful the farm bill conference report would be ready for a vote after Labor Day. The Senate is expected to name nine negotiators, five Republicans and four Democrats.

Lawmakers Scramble to Extend Flood Insurance Before Hurricane Season Peaks
Unless they act by July 31, parts of the program will lapse

Rep. Ed Royce, shown here in May, introduced a bill Tuesday with Earl Blumenauer that would extend flood insurance coverage for four additional months. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House, facing a July 31 deadline to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program, is considering legislation to extend it through Nov. 30 as the House and Senate try to resolve big differences in their proposals for the program.

Reps. Ed Royce, a California Republican, and Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, introduced a bill Tuesday that would extend flood insurance coverage for the program’s 5 million policyholders for four additional months.

House Set to Start Farm Bill Talks With Senate Before Recess
Senate version does not include new work requirements

Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, says he is ready to go to conference on the farm bill with the Senate, but work requirements for food stamps are shaping up to be a sticking point. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House is expected to trigger farm bill negotiations Wednesday, raising the House Agriculture Committee chairman’s hopes that public pressure in support of expanded work requirements for food stamp recipients could help move Senate negotiators toward accepting the House legislation.

House Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway said he is ready to go to conference on the farm bill with the Senate. The Texas Republican said the House will vote Wednesday afternoon to launch negotiations with the Senate that will resolve differences between the chambers on a new five-year farm bill. The most contentious divide between the chambers is the scope of work requirements for food stamp recipients.

Podcast: Two Senators on How They Got a Bipartisan Farm Bill
CQ on Congress, Episode 111

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., center, and ranking member Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., prepare for a podcast with CQ editor Shawn Zeller in Hart Building on July 12, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

"I'm all for principles, but I'm not an ideologue," says Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas in explaining why he wrote a farm bill that doesn't add new work requirements to the food stamps program. He and the Agriculture panel's ranking Democrat, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, explain their bipartisan approach as they prepare for a fight with the House conservatives pushing the food stamp changes.

 

GOP Looks Busy If You Count Bills but That’s Not the Whole Story
McCarthy touts record-breaking productivity in the House

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said this week the GOP-led House has passed an extraordinary number of bills this Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy touted exceptional GOP productivity in a statement this week, citing smashed records for the number of bills passed out of the chamber this Congress.

Yes, the House has passed more bills this cycle, but it is unclear how meaningful that legislation has been.

With Only One Vote, McConnell Approves Treaty for the Blind
Majority leader used rare Senate procedure of the standing vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made use of a rare procedure to help approve the so-called Marrakesh Treaty. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A five-year campaign for a copyright exemption designed to make it easier for the blind and physically impaired to get access to foreign works of music and literature moved a step closer to being realized, under a rarely used Senate procedure.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday night engineered the approval of the so-called Marrakesh Treaty by using the chamber’s rarely used procedure of the standing vote.

Senate and House to Negotiate on Farm Bill After Recess
Senators overwhelmingly passed their farm bill Thursday

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow were united in keeping the chamber’s farm bill a bipartisan one. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate passed its farm bill Thursday by a vote of 86-11, after rejecting a proposal that would have reduced food stamp benefits for able-bodied adults.

The vote clears the path for a Senate-House conference committee after Congress returns from the weeklong Fourth of July recess. Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow remained united in keeping the bill bipartisan by working to prevent contentious provisions from being added to it.