The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a bipartisan farm bill spearhead by Republican Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, setting up a clash with the House over food stamp restrictions.
Roberts has pushed to get legislation to President Donald Trump's desk before the current farm bill expires at the end of September to avoid the prospect of hammering out a deal after the November elections. He worked closely with the agriculture committee's ranking minority member, Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to produce a bill, which the Senate endorsed on an 86-11 vote.
"Today marks an important day for farm country," Roberts said. "We are one step closer to providing farmers and ranchers a farm bill with the certainty and predictability they deserve."
The next step will come from the House, where progress has been delayed while the chamber wrestles with immigration policy. There, the legislation contains new eligibility requirements for food assistance that threaten to derail the bill's passage.
Even if it does pass, the House and Senate would enter negotiations to reconcile the differences between their plans. Roberts has made it clear that any bill with work requirements will fail in the Senate.
He praised Stabenow for her leadership and expertise in crafting their plan. She said the Senate bill proves "bipartisanship is a tried and true approach to getting things done."
"By working across the aisle," Stabenow said, "we crafted a farm bill that strengthens our diverse agricultural economy and all the jobs it supports in Michigan and across the county."