Boehner: No budget, farm bill deals yet

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday downplayed the likelihood of imminent agreements on the budget and the farm bill, two major items that leaders hope to resolve by the end of the year.

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The Speaker said he was “hopeful” that the House GOP Budget Committee chief, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and his Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), could strike a deal that could pass both chambers of Congress, but that none was yet at hand.

“Paul Ryan came in today and gave us an update on where they were,” Boehner said at his weekly Capitol press conference. “I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to work this out, but there’s clearly no agreement.”

He would not say whether or when the House would move to pass a stopgap spending bill if no agreement was reached. The House-Senate budget conference committee has a deadline of Dec. 13, but federal funding does not run out until Jan. 15.

Rep Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said he expects next Wednesday is the real deadline for the conference committee to vote on a proposal before recess.

On the farm bill, Boehner was more pessimistic and raised the possibility of needing a one-month extension of current policy into next year.

“I’ve not seen any real progress on the farm bill,” he said, “and so if we’ve got to pass a one-month extension of the farm bill, then I think we’ll be prepared to do that.”

Without an extension, milk prices could spike after Jan. 1. Boehner said that he believes an extension should cover the entire farm bill and not just the dairy program.

The Speaker was adamant that the House would not stay in session past Dec. 13 to finish work on the legislation.

“I’ve made it clear that the House is going to leave next Friday,” Boehner said. “You all know me pretty well: I say what I mean, and I mean what I say.”

—Erik Wasson contributed to this report, which was updated at 12:50 p.m.