Congress finally passed a bill that reopened the government, at least temporarily, and raised the debt ceiling enough to allow the government to pay its bills for a few months. The continuing resolution will fund the government until January 15th and the debt ceiling will allow the government to borrow money through February 7th. A committee made up of members of the House and Senate will be charged with developing a bipartisan budget by December 13th. If that doesn’t work, we could face another government shutdown in less than 3 months.
House leadership has finally appointed members to the farm bill conference committee but there is no set date for talks with Senate counterparts to begin. The appointed committee members are comprised mostly of members of the House Ag Committee and its Chairman, Frank Lucas (R-OK), will head up the conference committee. House Speaker Boehner named Representative Steve Southerland (R-FL) to the conference committee. This is significant because it was Representative Southerland who led the fight to cut food stamp spending by close to $40 billion. His appointment suggests that House leadership will continue to insist on much bigger food stamp cuts than those likely to be readily accepted by the Senate. The Democrats’ committee members include Representative Marsh Fudge (D-OH), who staunchly opposes food stamp cuts.