Congress won’t pass a farm bill before early next year.
That was the message from Washington Tuesday, when the principal farm bill players emerged from negotiations and announced they won’t have a full bill ready before the House adjourns for the year on Friday.
The biggest question left this week: Will lawmakers build a sturdy enough framework for a farm bill deal that ensures quick passage of a full farm bill in early January? The principle negotiators have intimated they’ll be able to all but pass the bill, but that remains to be seen. The door will be open for more delays if they leave Washington with more real work to do in January.
Rep. Frank Lucas, the Republican chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, told Politico he would file a bill that extends the farm bill through January 2014, likely in an effort to buy time and avert the so-called “Dairy Cliff.” The House could pass that bill before its session ends, extending more time for negotiations.
Rep. Colin Peterson and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the principal Democrats in the negotiation, say they oppose any extension.
The announcement of more delays is not a shock. The original farm bill expired September 2012 and a nine-month extension, passed in the waning hours of 2012, expired on Sept. 30, 2013.
The farm bill odyssey continues.