By Donald Grady, IDFA Manager of Legislative Affairs
Last week, H.R. 2 – the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (the House Farm Bill) – failed on the floor of the House of Representatives by a vote of 198-213. Immediately after the vote the Speaker of the House offered a motion to reconsider, a procedural move to allow the bill as amended to be reconsidered, and then postponed any further action on the bill at this time.
So, what does all that mean? Most simply put, the bill is on hold, and the speaker has the ability to bring the motion to reconsider – and the underlying bill – back to the floor at any time during the current legislative session.
The more relevant question is, why did the farm bill fail? The bill failed because a group of conservative Republican members joined with every Democrat in opposition. Some of these Republican members are negotiating an agreement with Republican leadership for a vote on an immigration bill in exchange for their support of the farm bill. We expect this negotiation on immigration to drive the timing and the outcome on the vote for reconsideration of the farm bill.
Despite the failure of the bill, during the amendment process, IDFA was successful in achieving a couple of positive results. First, Congressman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, R-Pa., authored language that was included in the manager’s amendment to require USDA to finalize its interim final rule allowing low-fat flavored milk to be served in school cafeterias. Second, IDFA and the National Milk Producers Federation successfully worked to defeat an amendment offered by Representative Thomas Massie, R-Ky., which would have allowed raw milk to be shipped across state lines in certain circumstances. The Massie amendment failed by an overwhelming vote of 79 to 331.
While the house bill is on hold, the Senate continues to work to craft a bipartisan bill that the committee could mark-up as early as the first week of June. IDFA has been working closely with the Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to ensure IDFA’s priorities are addressed.