Election year politics may be standing in the way of passing a much needed spending bill on Capitol Hill. As YNN's Washington bureau reporter Erin Billups tells us New York's rank and file lawmakers are pushing House leadership to put aside partisan games and pass the Farm Bill.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The House of Representatives is struggling to move forward on its $956 billion House bill that maps out spending for agriculture programs and food stamp benefits for 10 years.
"This bill will help our dairy farmers. It's gonna help our specialty crop farmers. I think it's gonna help with broadband. I think it's gonna help with inspiring a new generation of farmers," said Representative Chris Gibson.
The Senate passed its bill in June. The House Agriculture Committee approved a farm bill almost two weeks ago with bipartisan support, but politics are getting in the way of a vote.
"There’s resistance from the leadership to bring the bill to the floor and use democratic votes in order to pass the bill," Representative Bill Owens said.
Congressman Chris Gibson is also on the Agriculture Committee with Bill Owens and joined him in signing a letter along with more than 70 other members, on both sides of the aisle, urging the leadership to allow a vote.
Gibson said, "Leadership is saying they don't think they have the votes. I respectfully disagree. We had a strong bipartisan vote in committee, I think, that will continue to grow on the floor."
But it looks like House GOP leadership is leaning toward passing a one year extension of the Farm Bill that would get them way past the November elections, and addresses immediate drought concerns.
"This could be very chaotic and I think farmers would find that really troubling," Owens said.
It's still unclear whether anything will be worked out before the August recess.
But New York lawmakers who worked hard on the bill are hoping the state will reap benefits of the measure sooner rather than later, like a program that would allow schools to purchase produce from local farmers.
"This is gonna be important not only in terms of the nutrition for our students but also in terms of building a bond between students teachers and farmers," Gibson said.
And a measure giving family farmers more access to credit.
Owens said, "That will allow them to transfer ownership to their families more easily and protect their assets."
The Senate and House still need to come together to hash out differences in the bill, like the extensive cuts to food stamp benefits.
The current Farm Bill expires September 30th.