The House of Representatives has now formally sent its version of the Farm Bill to the Senate for consideration. Although electronic files have replaced paper copies for most purposes, the two sides of Congress still officially communicate by sending messages or copies of bills to the other side. Once the bill was approved by the House, the Senate could not take any action on the bill until it actually was received.
Instead of considering the House version of the Farm Bill, the Senate is expected to strike everything but the title of the bill and replace it with the Senate-passed version of the bill. The Senate could then send the bill back to the House, but it is expected instead to hold the bill and ask for the appointment of a conference committee. That action will likely be taken by unanimous consent, but the timing of the action is unclear at this time.
As the House of Representatives has yet to resolve what it intends to do regarding changes with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), it is not clear if a conference committee will be formed quickly. To do so, the House would need to take an official action to accept the formation of a conference committee and to appoint conferees.
If the House agrees to a conference committee, the Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) will designate who will serve on the committee on behalf of the House of Representatives. Prior to the vote on the Goodlatte-Scott amendment that eliminated dairy supply management from the bill, Speaker Boehner sent a letter to his colleagues urging them to support the amendment. The amendment was passed by a margin of more than two to one, 291-135; in a rare show of bipartisanship, it was supported by 196 Republicans and 95 Democrats.
For more information, contact Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.