Player of the Week: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowCongress prepares to punt biggest political battles until after midterms Trump attacks Dems on farm bill Trump is wrong, Dems are fighting to save Medicare and Social Security MORE (D-Mich.) has been a driving force on the farm bill, a five-year authorization measure whose fate could be decided this week.

Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, defied the odds by passing her farm bill through the upper chamber in June, 64-35.

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Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsPat Robertson asks followers to help cast 'shield of protection' ahead of hurricane Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke The farm bill gives Congress a chance to act on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act MORE (R-Kan.), ranking member on the Ag panel, was also key to passing the bill. He and 15 other Republicans voted for it, pushing the bill over the top. 

But Stabenow and Roberts face long odds in getting the House to follow the Senate’s lead. 

While farm groups have lauded the farm legislation, conservative-leaning groups such as Americans for Tax Reform and FreedomWorks have lambasted it for being filled with “special-interest entitlements.”

The House Agriculture Committee earlier this month passed its own farm bill, 35-11. 

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerJordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker GOP senator says he 'regularly' considers leaving Republican Party Republicans mull new punishments for dissident lawmakers MORE (R-Ohio), who has a long history of voting against farm measures, has put into motion plans to pass a one-year extension of farm law that would include relief for farmers dealing with the nation’s record drought.

At press time, it was unclear if House GOP leaders have the votes to clear such a bill.

Regardless, it is clear that Stabenow will not be giving up. She has relentlessly pushed for a bipartisan compromise in a highly partisan atmosphere. All the while, she has had to worry about her reelection bid in November. (The Hill has rated her race as “lean-Democratic.”)

Last week, Stabenow suggested support for a one-year House bill — as long as it leads to conference negotiations between the chambers. 

It remains to be seen when and if Stabenow will be successful in her effort to send a long-term farm bill to President Obama’s desk. But she has proven to be an adept legislator in her first Congress as head of the Agriculture Committee.