WASHINGTON — Key lawmakers from both parties announced a final agreement Monday for a multi-year farm bill, putting
The proposed compromise, which could come up for a House vote Wednesday, would avert deep cuts sought by
If approved, the bipartisan legislation would extend a somewhat surprising streak of cooperation in Congress, following a two-year budget deal reached in December and a $1-trillion appropriation package passed this month.
Passage in the House is not assured, although the lower-than-expected cuts to the food stamp program were likely to bring more Democratic support. Senate action would follow in the coming weeks.
The final measure would mitigate much of the House-sought cuts to the food stamp program, also known as the
Reliance on food stamps has surged since the Great Recession. Nearly 48 million Americans are enrolled in the program, up 47% compared with 2008. Total yearly costs have jumped to nearly $80 billion from about $38 billion.
The bill's overall price tag was expected to come in below spending levels authorized under the previous law, though a final estimate had not yet been released. The legislation also would prevent a significant jump in milk prices that will occur if no deal is reached.
Congress' inability to pass a farm bill was another consequence of the partisan warfare that erupted between the House and Senate after Republicans regained control of the lower chamber in 2011. The traditional alliance of lawmakers from urban and rural districts -- one faction strongly supportive of nutrition assistance programs and the other of subsidies that boost farming interests -- had served to give the legislation significant bipartisan backing when it is reauthorized every five years. The last farm bill passed in 2008, and its provisions were extended an additional year as part of a January 2013 budget deal.
“We never lost sight of the goal,” said Rep.
House Majority Leader