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Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Frank D. Lucas
Washington is once again hurtling toward a budget crisis, but you couldn't tell from the travel itineraries of members of Congress.
House Republican leaders powered through a slimmed-down farm bill Thursday, dropping the food stamp program from the measure and leaving the rest of the bill, which maintains the farm subsidies system that props up U.S. agriculture.
The House rejected the massive farm bill Thursday after conservative Republicans banded with Democrats, dealing a major defeat to House Speaker John A. Boehner and the GOP leadership and raising questions about the chamber's ability to pass any ambitious legislation this year.
The House is expected to consider this week the reauthorization of the farm bill, a multiyear plan for the future of American farming. While much of the media coverage of the debate in the Senate centered on nutrition programs, an important battle is brewing in the House regarding dairy policy.
After punting last year on a farm bill, House Speaker John A. Boehner said Monday he will bring his chamber's 2013 version to the floor this month — a move sure to divide his fellow Republicans.
While congressional leaders have reached a deal to avoid milk prices from skyrocketing in the coming weeks, the proposal was in limbo Tuesday as it was piggybacked onto the stalled measure intended to avoid the nation falling off the "fiscal cliff."
When Congress returns to work Tuesday for what is expected to be a hyperbusy lame-duck session, it will have more to worry about than just the looming "fiscal cliff," a series of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes scheduled to kick in at the end of the year.
The five-year farm bill, which cleared the Senate last week, could be headed for rough waters in the House with Republicans complaining that the upper chamber's bill favors Midwesterners' crops over Southerners' produce and saying a final compromise will need to have deeper cuts to the food-stamp and crop-insurance programs.
Promoting farm subsidies was once a no-brainer for rural members of Congress seeking re-election. This year, it's a bit trickier.
When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) thinks about farmers, it must have in mind the lyrics from that song by Kansas: "All we are is dust in the wind."
Acting on a tip, a congressional ethics office wants lobbyists to turn over fundraising information on eight House members, six of them on the Financial Services Committee that worked to overhaul the nation's financial regulations.
"I plead to you. I implore you. Put aside whatever the latest email is, or the latest flier is, or whatever comment or rumor you've heard from people near you or around you," Mr. Lucas said. "Assess the situation. Look at the bill."
"I appreciate your work," Mr. Lucas said.