Trump, Conaway blame Stabenow for farm bill stalemate

Source: Marc Heller, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, September 14, 2018

President Trump yesterday blamed Democrats for Congress’ difficulty passing a new farm bill, as lawmakers reported limited progress in negotiations.

“Senator Debbie Stabenow and the Democrats are totally against approving the Farm Bill,” Trump tweeted. “They are fighting tooth and nail to not allow our Great Farmers to get what they so richly deserve. Work requirements are imperative and the Dems are a NO. Not good!”

Trump was referring to one of the major stumbling blocks for the bill, House Republicans’ support for new employment-related requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

In response, Stabenow (D-Mich.), the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, recalled in a tweet that the Senate’s version of the farm bill overwhelmingly passed with Democratic support.

“In case you missed it, the Senate passed a bipartisan #FarmBill that got 86 votes — the most ever,” Stabenow said. “I’m not letting politics distract me from working across the aisle to finalize a good bill that will deliver certainty for farmers and families in Michigan and across the country.”

The back-and-forth came as leaders of the House-Senate conference committee said they were making slight progress toward a budget for the five-year measure, which will determine what kind of policy changes are feasible.

House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said the top four lawmakers from the agriculture committees “broke the ice” and have a path forward on budget-related issues.

But the House and Senate still have significant differences, Stabenow told reporters.

Conaway appeared to side with Trump in speaking with reporters yesterday, saying he hasn’t seen much room for negotiation with Stabenow.

“Good on the president,” Conaway said, adding that Trump’s comments could help move the negotiations.

“She’s gotta come to the table, and so far — my perspective — I’m not getting the kind of negotiation out of her that gets us to a deal,” Conaway said.