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Stabenow: No reason to consider Democratic-only farm bill “at this point”

BY: MEREDITH LEE HILL | 09/05/2023 05:46 PM EDT

Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Tuesday she’s still pushing to move a bipartisan farm bill in the upper chamber by the end of the year, and doesn’t see the need to write a Democratic-only version “at this point.”

The fate of the massive farm bill reauthorization is increasingly in limbo in both the House and Senate, as delays in the congressional calendar pile up from the debt ceiling fight earlier this year and the ongoing government funding battle. Amid demands from far-right members to slash spending, Senate Agriculture member Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) recently suggested Stabenow may have to write a Democratic-only Senate version of the farm bill this fall.

Asked about Klobuchar’s comments and whether she foresaw any situation that would warrant her drafting a Democratic-only farm bill, Stabenow replied: “Not at this point.”

“The best way to get it done is to have it be bipartisan,” Stabenow added.

Stabenow, asked about the timeline for a farm bill this fall and whether she’s still pushing to move a bill before the end of the year, said she’s “hoping to have this done by the end of the year.” Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) set off major panic over the fate of the farm bill last week when he left the legislation off a list of major Senate priorities before the end of 2023.

Privately, people involved in the talks say enactment of a new farm bill isn’t likely before the next spring, and it’s possible lawmakers this fall eventually consider a longer extension. Both Senate and House negotiators still have major funding and policy issues to hammer out over nutrition spending, climate-related agriculture funds and commodity support programs.

GOP pushback: Republicans have sharply pushed back on the suggestion of a Democratic-only farm bill draft in the Senate.

Senate Agriculture Committee member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) recently dismissed the possibility of Senate Democrats drafting their own version of the farm bill, when asked by POLITICO. He said that would be a steep departure from past farm bill processes in the upper chamber.

Grassley said he didn’t believe such a bill wouldn’t pass the Senate. He’s suggested a year-long extension of the farm bill is likely if Congress doesn’t pass a new farm bill before the end of the year.

CLARIFICATION:This report has been updated to reflect Grassley’s comments that a farm bill extension is likely if Congress doesn’t pass a new farm bill before the end of the year.
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