By The Hill Editors - 06/17/13 10:37 PM EDT
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) has been trying for years to pass a comprehensive farm bill. This week, he might get his wish.
Lucas and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) are trying to round up 218 votes so that the House can get into conference with the Senate, which passed a bipartisan farm bill earlier this month, 66-27.
Liberals have attacked the House bill for cutting food stamps. Conservatives balk at the legislation’s price tag: $940 billion over 10 years.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has endorsed the bill, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hasn’t revealed her hand.
Conservatives in the GOP Conference are clamoring for the so-called “Hastert rule,” which would prevent bills from hitting the floor absent the backing of a majority of the majority.
It appears that more than half of House Republicans will back the farm bill, but there are sure to be dozens of defections. Once again, House Democrats will need to help push a controversial bill over the top.
Lucas, working with Peterson and House GOP leaders, is busy trying to round up the votes. If they get them, the bill will hit the House floor this week. If not, a vote will be delayed, and spark speculation that the measure is dead.
Last month, Lucas moved a farm measure through his committee on a bipartisan, 36-10 vote. A similar vote was held in the last Congress, but Republican leaders blocked the legislation from getting a floor vote.
Boehner’s backing of Lucas’s legislation gives it a big boost. But that doesn’t mean it has 218 votes — at least, not yet.