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Roberts Frustrated Over Delays with Farm Bill
USAgNet - 11/15/2018

Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said Wednesday that top farm bill negotiators are close to reaching agreement on a conference report but that House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) is standing in the way of it getting done.

According to Politico, Conaway later fired back, telling reporters that "finger-pointing" at this stage in the talks would not help to bring about a deal.

Roberts said he wants the so-called Big Four to sign a conference report on Thursday. But Conaway, Roberts said, is holding out from supporting a compromise to reconcile the House farm bill, H.R. 2 (115), with the Senate measure, S. 3042 (115), because he has lingering concerns with at least six titles, among them the commodity, nutrition and conservation titles.

Conaway has taken his time in making counter-offers related to provisions under discussion, and in one instance did not respond for twelve days, Roberts added.

"I am very troubled by the fact that we have agreement among three but we canít get the fourth one," Roberts said, referring to Senate Agriculture ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) as the other two in his camp.

Conaway said in response that he's not under the impression that Roberts, Stabenow and Peterson are all on the same page. Committee staff have been exchanging offers, he said, and Roberts' "sense of urgency is apparently recent" because his staff received feedback on a proposal on Monday after waiting eight days, reports Politico.

Roberts added that he believes the Senate bill makes sufficient adjustments to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, pointing to provisions intended to crack down on fraud. SNAP has been a primary sticking point in negotiations, largely because Conaway wants to implement the House bill's conservative proposals to strengthen work requirements for millions of SNAP recipients and expand a state-run job-training program.

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