Farm bill discharge petition runs into roadblocks

Three weeks after the farm bill was passed out of committee, Lucas has not officially filed the measure for floor consideration. Lucas told reporters there are technical reasons for this, and he "expects" to file soon, but Braley is crying foul.

He said that under the rules, the discharge petition will not be available until Sept. 13 for members to begin signing unless Lucas acts during August pro forma sessions. If Lucas acts, the petition could be placed at the House clerk's desk immediately when the House reconvenes. The few days matter, as current farm subsidy programs run out Sept. 30.

The effort also suffered a blow when Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), who was originally planning to gather signatures from the GOP side, decided against joining the effort. Noem is a rising star among the House freshmen and might have feared angering her leaders.

"I don't know what kind of pressure GOP leaders are putting on their members," Braley said.

Sources have told The Hill that one reason the farm bill is being blocked is an interest in using its $35 billion in deficit reduction to replace automatic defense cuts set to hit in January. To count the cuts, the farm bill would need to be wrapped into a year end "fiscal cliff" bill.

"My district has been declared an extreme drought area. If the farm bill is being held up over the sequester, then we have a serious problem as a country," Braley said.