At least one saga of congressional bickering came closer to an end Monday night, when negotiators finally released the details of the 2018 farm bill, a massive piece of legislation, generally renewed every five years, that governs the United States’ agriculture and nutrition policy. This year’s bill skirts many of the most contentious points of debate that had held up its passage: It does not include either the new work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) or the restructuring of conservation and forestry programs for which House Republicans had been pushing.
The House could vote on the bill as soon as tomorrow, and the Senate could follow before the end of the week. President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House Tuesday that “the farm bill is in very good shape,” seeming to signal that he will sign the legislation if and when it arrives on his desk.
That would bring to an end months of publicly aired fighting between the House and the Senate Agriculture Committees. The chambers’ versions of the bill started miles apart. The House’s was so stringently partisan that it took two tries to even get it through the Republican-controlled chamber. In contrast, the Senate’s bill was solidly bipartisan from the start. “Frankly, it’s a damn miracle we got it done given all the controversy,” Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the Democratic ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, told the Red River Farm Network earlier this week. At the end of the day, the final piece of legislation is similar to the Senate bill and bears little resemblance to the cost-slashing, program-restructuring bill proposed by the House.