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Lawmakers reach tentative farm bill deal after months-long impasse

A truck passes the Brooklyn Elevator before unloading in Brooklyn, Iowa. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Key lawmakers said Wednesday they have reached a tentative deal on a massive farm bill, breaking a months-long impasse over legislation that doles out more than $400 billion in federal funds for farm subsidies, food stamps and conservation efforts.

Lawmakers have been at odds over a House GOP proposal to boost work requirements for food stamp recipients, but Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said they had resolved the debate over the work requirements and other outstanding issues.

The senators declined to offer details of the emerging compromise, cautioning that it was not final and could change pending completion of cost analyses and legislative language. Nonetheless, both expressed optimism the legislation could pass before the conclusion of Congress’s lame-duck session next month.

“We have an agreement on the outstanding issues,” Roberts said. “But until you get that language on the bill, and you know where we are with the scoring, it’s premature to say that we have a complete agreement.”

A massive legislative package that oversees a range of farming, conservation and nutrition programs, the farm bill is reauthorized every five years — generally on a bipartisan basis. Separate bills passed the House and the Senate over the summer, and negotiators have spent months trying to reconcile the differences between the two versions, even as the existing farm bill expired Sept. 30.

The compromise bill now being developed must pass each chamber again before heading to the president’s desk.

The biggest debate over this year’s farm bill was over food stamps, as House Republicans pushed much stricter work requirements for “able-bodied” adults seeking to benefit from the program.

The Republican plan would have added new work requirements for those between age 49 and 59 and made it more difficult for states to waive some food stamp work requirements. Among other changes, the GOP plan would have also removed the existing work requirement exemption for parents with children older than 6.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Erica Werner and Jeff Stein on Washington Post

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Published: November 28, 2018

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