Boehner: GOP working to address drought ASAP

He appeared to signal openness to either bringing the 2012 farm bill up for a full House vote soon or to bringing forward a smaller emergency drought relief measure.

Boehner is under pressure from members representing rural districts to bring up the farm bill, which passed out of the Agriculture Committee this month on a 35 to 11 vote. Some members are arguing that the current drought is an added reason to act since the bill extends or replaces expired disaster aid programs.

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Fiscal conservatives say the $957 billion farm bill spends to much on farm subsidies and food stamps and Boehner has long been skeptical of farm subsidies.

Asked to comment on the status of the farm bill, Boehner told reporters, "we're working with Chairman Lucas and the members of the Ag Committee -- we understand the emergency that exists out in rural America and we're concerned about addressing this as soon as possible." 

On Monday, the Iowa House delegation, led by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D), introduced an emergency drought relief bill in case the farm bill is not enacted.

The bill extends a number of programs through 2012: the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE); Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP); Livestock Disaster Forage Program (LFP); Tree Assistance Program (TAP); and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP).

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced a companion bill in the Senate last week and has been looking for a way to pay for the extension.