President Trump still does not have a new chief of staff, but at least he now has a green light to hand out bailouts and subsidies to America's farmers.
On Wednesday, the House passed an $867 billion farm bill to help those workers in the agricultural industry, sending the legislation to President Trump for a signature. The measure easily passed with a 369-47 vote. The legislation, which previously passed the Senate in an 87-13 vote on Tuesday, expands farm subsidies and according to The Hill, includes language legalizing hemp production.
The twice-a-decade legislation provides a safety net for farmers hit with unexpected weather or by tariffs, as well as to low-income Americans struggling to feed themselves and their families. According to the NYT, it is one of the most politically sensitive pieces of legislation Congress passes, balancing the demands of urban legislators hoping to maintain or increase funding for nutrition programs and rural lawmakers seeking to protect farmers, a divide brought into sharp relief this year as negotiations continued months after the previous bill’s Sept. 30 expiration date.
While the bill also provides funding for farmers markets and programs for organic farmers as well as authorizes funding for nutrition programs over the next five years, it did not include an earlier provision aimed at placing stronger work requirements for food stamps to the dismay of conservatives. Democrats, who will have a majority in the House starting in January, strongly opposed the provision — which received strong support from House Republicans and President Trump — arguing the change would be detrimental to the safety net relied upon by low-income earners.
Lawmakers passed the legislation following months of negotiations, with Congress allowing the current farm bill to lapse on Sept. 30 after struggling to come to a consensus over changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
But while stronger work requirements did not make it into the final text, the bill does make some changes to the SNAP program. Under the legislation, an interstate data system would be established to prevent multiple states from issuing SNAP benefits to the same individual simultaneously.
The bill only narrowly advanced past a rules vote earlier in the day after language was tucked into a procedural rule preventing for the rest of the year a floor vote on any war powers resolution limiting the U.S. involvement in Yemen. The move sparked backlash from a number of lawmakers. Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern blasted it, urging his colleagues to vote against the rule ahead of it coming to the floor.
"Mr. Speaker, I wanted to be able to vote for this rule today since I said I was going to support the underlying legislation, but my Republican friends screwed it up again," McGovern said during floor debate. "Because tucked inside this rule is language that turns off fast-track procedures for all Yemen resolutions through the end of this Congress. That's right — the Republican leadership has declared that the worst humanitarian conflict in the world, where the U.N. has just announced famine is taking place due to the war, is not worth the time and attention of the people's House."
Lawmakers included the provision as the Senate appeared poised Wednesday to approve a resolution using the War Powers Act to force a withdrawal of U.S. troops in or "affecting" Yemen within 30 days unless they are fighting Al Qaeda.