Hoyer predicts $1T farm bill will pass

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A $1 trillion proposal governing the nation's farm policy will pass the House with broad support from Democrats, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) predicted Tuesday.

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The minority whip acknowledged that "significant numbers" of liberal Democrats are lining up against the measure over an $8 billion cut in food stamp funding. But another large group of Democrats — including himself — will back the bill when it hits the floor, he added, leading Democratic leaders to forgo any formal plan to whip the vote.

"It's a much, much better bill than passed the House, and I think it'll pass," Hoyer told reporters in the Capitol. "We don't think that it needs to be whipped; we think there will be a significant number of Democrats [voting yes]."

Not all Democratic leaders are on board. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, announced Tuesday that he'll oppose the bill over the food stamp cut, and Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) also voiced strong reservations.

"I'm happy to see the reforms that are in the bill — it's a step in the right direction," Becerra said. "[But] at a time that we're trying to recuperate economically — we're trying to get Americans back at it — it's not the time to put over 1 million families in further economic distress."

Unveiled Monday, the bipartisan legislation provides almost $1 trillion in farm subsidies, crop insurance programs and food stamps over the next decade.

The bill was quickly condemned by liberal Democrats for the $8 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps. That figure is much smaller than the $40 billion cut championed by House Republicans, but still too large for many liberals to swallow in the still-fragile economy.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), who heads the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, spoke out against the package Tuesday morning during the Democrats' weekly caucus meeting. Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) declined to sign the conference report.

Hoyer said he also opposes the food stamp cut provision.

"It's ironic that we are looking to cut $800 million a year from some of the poorest people in America who need — in the richest country on the face of the earth — some help putting food on the table," he said.

Nevertheless, "a large number of Democrats" will support the bill, Hoyer said. He noted that even Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), the liberal head of the Congressional Black Caucus, is backing the measure.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has not yet weighed in.

Democratic support will almost certainly be vital to the bill's passage. While Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have already endorsed the measure, dozens of conservatives are expected to vote against it to protest spending levels they consider too high.

Hoyer predicted the only way the bill would fail is if a much larger wave of Republicans than expected bucks the GOP leadership.

"It'll pass unless the Republicans hemorrhage votes because it is not draconian enough," he said.

The farm bill could reach the House floor as soon as this week.