Senate sends farm bill back to House

Published on: Jul 18, 2013

After back and forth calling out for farm bill conferencing to begin, it seems the legislative technical matters at least are in place to allow for the naming of conferees to settle differences between the House and Senate farm bills.

All revenue generating measures must officially have a House bill number (i.e. H.R. 2642). Procedurally, the Senate had to take up the House bill, approve or amend it, and then send it back to the House requesting a conference.

In the final hours of Senate action July 18, Stabenow did that by asking for unanimous consent on H.R. 2642, and have the text of the Senate's farm bill (S. 954) as passed by the Senate be inserted instead.

"This is a very important step as we move forward in what I am very confident, despite the twists and turns, will result in a bipartisan farm bill," Stabenow said on the floor.

Stabenow officially sent the Senate bill to the House and requested a conference on the farm bill. Each chamber will name conferees to settle the differences between the bills. Stabenow asked for a ratio of 7 Democrats to 5 Republicans to represent the Senate side.

Stabenow stressed time is of the essence and said the farm bill expires in 5 legislative weeks. Once Congress returns July 22, Congress will be working only 19 more days.

It appears House Leadership would like to move forward with a House nutrition title before moving to the formal conference, though there is no timeline for that work yet.

Meanwhile, reports indicate discussions are being held in both chambers to ascertain Members’ concerns, and informal talks between agriculture-focused staff are ongoing.

Stabenow did express confidence that conferees could come together to produce a bipartisan bill that would be bipartisan in both the House and Senate.