Player of the Week: Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.)

Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) faces long odds in his effort to move a farm bill through his panel, onto the House floor and ultimately to President Obama’s in-tray this year.

Lucas is marking up his farm measure Wednesday. The good news for Lucas is that Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), ranking member on the Ag Committee, backs the bill. So the chances are good that the panel will clear it this week.

But whether it gets to the House floor is another matter. Before the July 4 recess, House GOP leaders asked Lucas to postpone his markup as they were grappling with the highway and student loan bills. 

The ball is in the House’s court because the Senate, despite numerous obstacles, recently passed a bipartisan farm bill. That was a big accomplishment for Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who crafted the measure and rallied support for it.

The Lucas-Peterson bill, which differs from the Stabenow-Roberts measure, has critics on both right and left. 

Some in GOP circles are against moving such a massive bill so close to the election, while Republicans in farm states are pushing for it. 

Liberals, meanwhile, decry its $16 billion in cuts to food stamps. (It is worth noting that Democrats in the last Congress cut $12 billion in food stamps to help pay for a teacher aid package.)

Lucas points out that his bill saves more than $35 billion in mandatory funding and repeals or consolidates more than 100 programs. He says it also would provide regulatory relief to farmers. 

The election is less than four months away, and some say the deadline has passed for any high-profile bills to pass Congress before the election. Lucas is out to prove them wrong.