Agreement Reached by House Working Group on Nutrition Bill

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas told the Agribusiness Club of Washington Thursday that the nutrition bill working group established by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has reached agreement on a nutrition bill that would cut spending by 40-billion dollars over 10 years. South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem - a member of the working group - said lawmakers developed six to seven points that Cantor will use to write legislation over the August recess. The measure - according to Lucas - will be brought up in September. Noem said it could even come up the first week members return to Washington. Lucas wasn't predicting whether it would be able to garner the 218 votes required for passage. Lucas also suggested agreement on a final conference report nutrition title would probably require intervention from on high. Lucas told reporters the agreement includes the 20.5-billion in cuts included in the bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee, retains amendments added on the floor in June and adds other cuts.

Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson calls the legislation is another political messaging bill to nowhere. He says the Republican Leadership clearly has no interest in compromise or actual legislating. According to Peterson - adding an additional 20-billion dollars in nutrition cuts on top of the poison pill nutrition amendments that brought down the committee's bipartisan farm bill in June effectively kills any hopes of passing a five-year farm bill this year. If the House would just name farm bill conferees - Peterson says members can conference the House farm-only bill with the Senate's farm bill during August and produce a compromise for both chambers to pass. He says the House Majority has shown with this action that they have no interest in getting a farm bill done.

The farm bill approved by the Senate only makes four-billion dollars in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow says the decision of Cantor to bring up a bill to make 40-billion in cuts means conference on the farm bill can't proceed in August as planned. She adds it will be very difficult to finish a farm bill this year. Stabenow also says it will be difficult to pass a farm bill extension.

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