Today, the House of Representatives voted 213-211 to pass H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act, otherwise known as the Farm Bill. Representative Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina), Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, stuck to his agreement with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to deliver conservative support for the House’s version of the Farm Bill in exchange for a vote on the conservative backed immigration reform bill sponsored by Representative Robert Goodlatte (R-Virginia) and Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas).
Next week, the U.S. Senate is expected to take up their version of the bill, S. 3042, which enjoys broad bipartisan support. If the Senate version passes next week, the next step will be for both chambers to name conferees and go to a conference committee to resolve the difference between the two bills. This is expected to be a complicated process because the House version of the bill makes significant modifications to the food stamp program. These modification to the food stamp program has no support from Senate Democrats nor House Democrats. Leaders from both parties have until September 30th, when current Farm Bill is slated to expire, to negotiate a final bill; however, failure to reach an agreement will likely trigger a short-term extension of the current Farm Bill. While conferees could be named in July, it is expected that key members of Congress could use time-periods in July and August to try and work out differences in advance of a formal conference committee, which could come in September.