Congressman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), who chairs the House Committee on Agriculture, says the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), among other things, will complicate quick passage of a new farm bill.
Speaking with AgriTalk Radio’s Mike Adams on Thursday, Lucas said following the court’s ruling, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) quickly announced the House will vote on repealing the bill. Indeed, a release on Cantor’s website says he plans to hold a vote on July 11.
“The lines are clearly drawn,” Lucas says. “The body that passed this when Speaker Pelosi was in charge now is a body now under speaker Boehner that will vote for repeal.” What the Senate will do is less clear, he adds.
Debate on the ACA could delay action on the farm bill, Lucas believes. “It makes the farm-bill process more complicated, but I’m not sure, Mike, that you could have made the process any less complicated the way things have been going lately.”
Lucas plans, however, to push for debate and passage of a bill through the House. “Let me remind you as a west Oklahoma wheat farmer, I put the seed in the ground and plan on harvesting a crop,” he says, adding there are numerous factors such as weather and markets that determine whether it’ s good year or a bad year.
Lucas says he plans begin work on marking up the bill on July 11 with Ranking Minority Member Colin Peterson (D-Minn.). He believes the committee can build a balanced, equitable, bi-partisan bill that “achieves the savings necessary to get the attention of our colleagues on the floor of the House.”
However, Lucas expects challenges in accessing floor time to explain and debate the bill before the full house, as it competes for time with other priorities and a vast number of amendments slow the process. He believes though, that once the House passes a bill, it will move through conference with the Senate quickly for a final vote by the House and Senate.
But even after a bill passes both houses of Congress and gains the approval of the President, Lucas says legislators will need to assess how much time it will take USDA to absorb the bill’s changes, create rules, train FSA employees on the new rules, develop software, educate constituent and implement the bill’s provisions. It is getting to point, he says, where a one-year extension of the current bill could be necessary.
“I have carried, for a year,” he says “a draft copy of an extension in my pocket, which I don’t want to use, but am prepared to use if an extension is in the best interest of the folks back home on the farm.”