By Alan Bjerga
The House Agriculture Committee's top Democrat criticized Republican leaders for failing to schedule a vote on a new farm-policy bill, saying time to pass the measure before the current law expires is "running out."
Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota said House Republican leaders failed to include the bill, which the Agriculture Committee passed July 12, in their schedule for floor action next week. That leaves only four legislative days to consider the measure before Congress adjourns for recess on Aug. 6, Peterson said.
"There is no excuse not to bring the farm bill to the floor," Peterson said today in a statement, accusing Republicans of wasting the past two weeks on what he called"political messaging bills that are going nowhere." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, has also called for a vote.
The House panel's bill would cut U.S. Department of Agriculture spending by $35.1 billion over 10 years. The farm bill reauthorizes all USDA programs, including subsidies for farmers, food aid for poorer families and initiatives that improve soil and water quality. The current law expires on Sept. 30.