Farm Bill

Mitch McConnell Touting Victory With Hemp Legalization on Farm Bill
Issue is becoming an early plank of the Kentucky Republican’s 2020 re-election bid

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been promoting industrial hemp language in the farm bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to put himself on the farm bill conference committee was insurance that one of his policy priorities — and a key issue for his 2020 re-election campaign — would make it to President Donald Trump’s desk this year.

“At a time when farm income is down and growers are struggling, industrial hemp is a bright spot of agriculture’s future,” McConnell said Tuesday morning. “My provision in the farm bill will not only legalize domestic hemp, but it will also allow state departments of agriculture to be responsible for its oversight.”

Flashback Friday: Christmas Tree Bill
When there’s something in a measure for nearly everyone

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree stands in front of the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For less astute observers of Capitol Hill, the term “Christmas tree bill” might conjure up festive images of twinkling lights and tinsel, candy canes and cookies. But in reality, the term refers to seasonal indulgence of a different sort. A Christmas tree bill is a piece of legislation, loaded with “ornaments” — unrelated, and often, excessive amendments.

The term is said to date back to a March 1956 Time magazine article on the debate over the farm bill. New Mexico Sen. Clinton P. Anderson, frustrated by the number of amendments added to the measure, was quoted as saying, “This bill gets more and more like a Christmas tree; there’s something on it for nearly everyone.”

Final Farm Bill Would Make Hemp Legal, Other Details Revealed
Lying in state of George H.W. Bush disrupts bill release schedule

Corn grows on a farm on July 13, 2018 near Amana, Iowa. Farmers in Iowa and the rest of the country, who are already faced with decade-low profits, are bracing for the impact a trade war with China may have on their bottom line going forward. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

The top House Agriculture Democrat says a final farm bill agreement rejects controversial House provisions to tie food stamp benefits to expanded work requirements, greenlights hemp cultivation and tweaks programs important to farmers and ranchers.

The death of former President George H.W. Bush and his lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda disrupted congressional schedules this week, including the release of a final farm bill. Lawmakers have spent weeks negotiating to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the legislation.  

Grassley Urges McConnell to Take Up Criminal Justice Bill
Judges can wait, Judiciary chairman says

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks with staff before the start of the Senate Judiciary Committee markup hearing in the Dirksen Building on Nov. 15. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley again implored Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get a criminal overhaul through the Senate before the end of the year.

It should be OK if fewer of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominations get confirmed as a result, Grassley said, especially with the GOP holding the Senate.

House Cancels Votes, Senate Postpones for Bush Ceremonies
Send-off for former president scrambles calendar and changes calculation of shutdown politics

Workers set up the Capitol Rotunda on Monday for the body of former President George H.W. Bush to lie in state. The House and Senate have both altered legislative schedules to honor Bush, who died Friday at age 94.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House has canceled all votes for the week and the Senate has postponed votes until after the Wednesday funeral of former President George H.W. Bush.

House lawmakers were scheduled to vote on 14 bills under suspension of the rules this week, in addition to the farm bill conference report and a fiscal 2019 spending package. Current funding for nine Cabinet departments and dozens of smaller agencies will run dry on Dec. 7.

On Chaotic Wednesday, Senators Hunt for an Endgame
Yemen resolution, contentious nominees complicate escape plans

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., arrives Wednesday for a briefing for all senators with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Wednesday was not a typical day in the Senate.

On an average Senate day, the visceral, negative response from senators to a closed briefing on U.S. policy on Saudi Arabia might have dominated headlines.

Capitol Ink | Make Way For Lame Ducklings

Trump Firm on $5 Billion Border Wall Demand as Deadline Nears, Scalise Says
‘There’s a way to get this resolved,’ House majority whip says

GOP lawmakers say President Trump would veto any must-pass Homeland Security spending bill that would provide less than $5 billion for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump will only accept $5 billion of border wall funding in a must-pass spending bill due next week, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise said after a meeting with the president.

That is the amount needed to “properly secure the border,” the Louisiana Republican said outside the West Wing, reiterating GOP senators’ contention that the President will accept nothing less than $5 billion.

Forest Fires Add Snag to Getting Farm Bill Passed
House-passed version would change forest management policies that opponents say would ease oversight

A Cal Fire firefighter monitors a burning home as the Camp Fire moves through earlier this month in Magalia, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

Forestry provisions have emerged as the latest snag in farm bill negotiations, sending the issue to congressional leaders for talks to break the impasse.

The forestry provisions in the House-passed version of the farm bill say the proposed changes to federal forest management policies would prevent forest fires — an issue that is now at the forefront after the deadly California fires. Opponents say the proposed changes would ease federal oversight and safeguards needed to limit logging on public lands that could destroy forests habitats and reduce protections for endangered wildlife.

Cornyn Says Flake Might Get Mueller Protection Vote to Get More Judges Confirmed
Republican whip opened door to a floor vote as part of a deal, even though he opposes the bill

The Senate might need to vote on legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III if it hopes to get judicial nominations through committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Tuesday there’s a chance the Senate will actually vote on legislation designed to protect Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

The Republican from Texas suggested that may be the price paid in order to get an agreement with retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona to let more of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominations through the Judiciary Committee.