BY World's Editorials Writers
Saturday, September 22, 2012
9/22/12 at 4:33 AM
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says he will not bring the 2010 Farm Bill to the floor before the current law expires on Sept. 30.
Late last week, according to the Washington, D.C., publication The Hill, a small group of Republican and Democratic farm-state House members were attempting an 11th-hour effort to pass the crucial measure before the expiration date.
There seems to be little hope of that happening in a Congress in which "bipartisanship" and "compromise" have become dirty words. The best hope is that the House will approve a one-year extension of the current bill, but even that is not a sure thing.
Oklahoma's Frank Lucas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, is in a precarious position. As a loyal member of the Republican leadership, he has to be careful not to be too critical of Boehner and other leaders. But he is clearly frustrated that the compromise bill he shepherded through his committee - it passed 35-11 in July - has foundered. Lucas' measure is much leaner than past farm bills, but its cuts don't go far enough for some on the far right, especially in the areas of farm subsidies and spending on nutrition programs.
Boehner said he doesn't think there are enough votes in the House to pass the Farm Bill, but that's disputed by other House members. More likely is that Boehner hopes that the Nov. 6 election will bring a Republican president and a GOP majority in the Senate, which would enable House Republicans to push a Farm Bill with no need for compromise.
The Farm Bill is of crucial importance, impacting not only an industry that provides 23 million jobs nationally - such things as drought relief for farmers and ranchers - but the nation's food supply, the environment and foreign trade. It includes major nutrition programs, such as food stamps and school lunches, which affected 880,000 Oklahomans last year.
Lucas crafted a good bill and the speaker ought to take it before the full House and work for its passage.