House Majority Leader Cantor Vague on Process for Farm Bill Conference

Eric Cantor

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Friday offered no clues as to when House Republicans would seek a conference with the Senate on the Farm bill.

The Hill reports that in his weekly session with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Hoyer pressed Cantor on when the House would conference with the Senate on the farm bill.  Cantor indicated it would be after the House passes a nutrition title, which would include authorization for billions in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps.

Cantor says, “We are committed to acting with urgency to bring to the floor a bill under the nutrition title of what was formally the farm bill.  It is our hope that we can get a nutrition bill to the floor because we believe strongly that the programs under those titles providing a safety net to the country’s most vulnerable is something important that we can maintain.”

Hoyer said that goes against the GOP’s original plan, which was to pass the farm bill without the food stamp language in order to get to a Senate conference.  Cantor told Hoyer that he never said that was the plan.   Last week, Cantor did say that Republicans were looking to pass a food stamp bill first, as soon as possible.

The question may be, what is the correct message coming from the Republicans in the House?  House Ag Committee Chairman sent a memo to House Republicans, late Tuesday, saying he was ready to go to a conference committee and would name the committee members.  On Wednesday, Chairman Lucas recanted on some of that statement and said that House Leadership would have more say as to when the farm bill would go to conference committee and what House members would serve on the conference committee.

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Tx.) said last week that he wanted to get to a conference with the Senate and work out food stamp language there, because House Republicans were balking at passing a farm bill that included this language.

Either way, Cantor indicated that a nutrition bill would not come up next week, and did not say when the House would consider it.