Cantor commits to farm bill vote
By Larry Dreiling
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the House should vote on the stalled farm bill during the post-election lame-duck session.
Cantor spoke Oct. 24 in Boise at a fundraiser for Rep. Raul Labrador, R-ID.
"I'm committed to bring the issue to the floor and then to see a way forward so we can get the votes to pass (a farm bill)," Cantor told The Idaho Statesman.
Cantor also said votes are necessary to stave off defense cuts and tax increases if Congress fails to act swiftly after the election.
"The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has told me we'll have to rethink our ability to be a global power if the sequester cuts go into place at the Pentagon," Cantor said. "We don't want that to happen. We're going to have to vote on something like that."
Labrador acknowledged that Cantor, who sets the House schedule, would win the argument over holding votes.
Cantor said he delayed action before the recess because "we don't have the votes on the floor."
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow issued a statement the next day lauding Cantor's remarks.
"I'm very pleased to hear that Majority Leader Cantor is now committed to bring the farm bill to the floor immediately after the election. America's farmers, ranchers, small businesses and 16 million Americans employed in agriculture desperately need the certainty and disaster relief the farm bill provides," Stabenow said.
"We passed a bipartisan farm bill that reforms farm programs and cuts $23 in spending. I hope our colleagues in the House of Representatives will follow that lead with a bipartisan approach to this legislation. It is critical that we are able to finalize the farm bill before the beginning of next year when farm programs begin to expire, which would impact milk and food prices for families."
The Senate passed its version of the farm bill in June, cutting more than $23 billion in funding. The House Agriculture Committee also passed a farm bill that would cut $33 billion, but House Republican leaders refused to bring the bill to the floor for a vote before leaving Washington in September.
At that time, Cantor said there were not enough votes to pass the bill.
Larry Dreiling can be reached by phone at 785-628-1117, or by email at email@example.com.