Farm Bill

Democrats Put Farm Bill Talks on Hold
Minority party says it can’t negotiate until it sees text and other info

House Agriculture ranking Democrat Collin C. Peterson says his party is done talking about the farm bill until the majority Republicans start sharing information. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For those tracking the farm bill, the top question this week is whether the House Agriculture Committee chairman and ranking member can reopen talks that stalled last week, after Democrats balked at possible cuts to the food stamp program.

Rep. Collin C. Peterson, the top committee Democrat, said Thursday he would heed his colleagues’ request that he stop negotiations until Chairman K. Michael Conaway gives members the text of the proposed farm bill, along with Congressional Budget Office cost estimates and impact assessments.

Opinion: Putting the ‘N’ in SNAP Should Be a Farm Bill Priority
Program should be strengthened to promote nutrition among SNAP recipients

Among the recommendations of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s SNAP Task Force is continuing incentives for recipients to consume fresh fruits and vegetables (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Congress begins its deliberations on this year’s farm bill, it’s time to pay more attention to the “N” in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Launched as a pilot program by President John F. Kennedy and expanded nationwide by President Richard Nixon, the food stamps program — now SNAP — has enjoyed bipartisan support over its nearly 60-year history. From its initial goals of supporting farm incomes and ensuring low-income families did not face hunger, it has evolved into an effective anti-poverty program. That evolution continues today with a focus on nutrition.

Organizing the Senate Can Sometimes Get Messy
No-fuss committee changes haven’t always been the norm

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer meets with Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Tina Smith of Minnesota in the Capitol on Jan. 3. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate’s leaders reached a deal to adjust committee membership without much fanfare this month, but such comity has not always been a sure thing.

Last month’s election of Alabama Democrat Doug Jones that set the Republican majority at 51-49 meant that the two parties would need to make relatively straightforward changes, providing for the GOP to hold one-seat majorities on committees either by reducing the total number of Republicans where there was a surplus, or adding an extra Democrat.

Maple Syrup Keeps Welch’s Colleagues and Constituents Happy
Vermont Democrat brings his own to breakfast

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., brings maple syrup back to work in D.C. from a farm next to his Vermont home. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Peter Welch knows how to make friends in Congress.

“If I give somebody maple syrup here, you’ve got a friend for life,” he said.

Senate Leaders Announce New Committee Rosters
Ratio change gives GOP a one-seat advantage at all committtees

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., received his committee assignments on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The full Senate is set to ratify revised committee rosters and ratios before adjourning Tuesday evening.

The changes add a Democrat to the Finance and Judiciary Committees, because each needed new Democrats to provide an across-the-board one-seat advantage for the GOP with their diminished majority.

Trump Heads Down to the Farm (Bureau)
Address to convention will be first by a U.S. president since George H.W. Bush

President Donald Trump will address the American Farm Bureau Federation national convention on Monday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump addresses the American Farm Bureau Federation’s national convention on Monday — the first president to attend since George H.W. Bush in 1992.

The president will discuss key points of an administration report the White House says is designed to boost the rural economy.

Opinion: 2018 Could Be Oddly Productive
Who says Congress can’t get things done during an election year?

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, shown here in 2013, are throwing their weight behind legislation to promote evidence-based policymaking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As we enter 2018, the pundit class is already pushing the usual refrain that nothing important gets done in an election year. It is always safe to be cynical in uncertain times, and low expectations have an undeniable appeal. But history does not support the premise that legislative achievements occur only in odd years. Moreover, I challenge anyone to say that 2018 won’t be odd.

The theory of election year incapacitation harks back to a time when lawmaking had a strategic cadence. Members of Congress would focus on policy for 18 months and then shift their concern to re-election. Now, our democracy exists in a constant election cycle. New members of Congress hold fundraisers before taking the oath of office, and the tyranny of our digital society ensures that every vote, utterance and facial expression becomes campaign fodder. While this perpetual election has many grim implications, it also has served to diminish the distinction between “on” and “off” years.

History Shows You Can’t Bank on Tax Bill Projections
CBO figures are no crystal ball

President Ronald Reagan signs the 1986 Tax Reform Act. (AP file photo)

A Tax Conference Committee Meeting Mostly For Show
Parameters are clear for final Republican push on tax bill

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady makes his way to a meeting in the speaker’s office in the Capitol on Dec. 6. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Nothing against the members of the House and Senate attending Wednesday’s inaugural meeting of the conference committee finalizing the tax code overhaul, but it’s mostly for show and unlikely to be must-see television.

That’s because, with the arguable exception of the farm bill, open meetings of conference committees are not where the deals get done, despite the talking points from top negotiators.

Clovis Latest Casualty of Russia Probe, Withdraws Nomination
Trump adviser identified as communicating with Papadopoulos

Sam Clovis, seen here high-fiving then-candidate Donald Trump in Iowa last year, has withdrawn his nomination to a top post at the Agriculture Department. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

Sam Clovis, the nominee for the Agriculture Department’s top scientific post, has withdrawn from consideration after being identified as one of the Trump campaign officials with whom former campaign aide George Papadopoulos communicated about his Russian contacts.

“We respect Mr. Clovis’s decision to withdraw his nomination,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.