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Boehner throws support behind farm bill

House Speaker says despite concerns with farm bill, no action would bring no reforms.

Last year House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) received plenty of criticism that he did not bring a farm bill to the House floor for a vote. During a press conference Wednesday morning he acknowledged that he and many in the Republican Party have concerns with the farm bill, but he would vote for the farm bill.

Reports have indicated the farm bill could come to the full House floor as soon as June 17, although nothing officially has been filed.

Boehner said despite his reservations about the bill, doing nothing means no changes in farm programs or nutrition spending will come.

"I'm going to vote for the farm bill to make sure the good work of the Agriculture Committee, and whatever the floor might do to improve this bill, gets to conference so we can get the changes people want in our nutrition programs and our farm programs," Boehner told reporters.

The statement is somewhat surprising since Boehner has never voted in favor of a farm bill, a point noted by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, (D., Md.) during his own press conference Tuesday.

Nearly 200 organizations sent a letter to each member of the House Tuesday in support of the farm bill and called on House members to work towards a common goal of passing a five-year farm bill. The letter reiterates that the House version saves taxpayers $40 billion, including $6 billion through sequestration. "Without passage of FARRM, no budget savings will be achieved beyond sequestration," the groups write.  

Whips counts expected later Wednesday and Thursday could shed light on how delicate the balance of votes is to cross the 218 threshold. Some see only 30 Democrats could vote for the bill, which puts passage on rough terrain with many Republicans targeted by conservative groups or concerned themselves over the spending levels.

Rep. Paul Broun, M.D. (R., Ga.) sent a letter June 11 to Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor urging them to take steps to remove the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other nutrition programs from the upcoming Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act.

The letter, signed by 25 Republican members of Congress and supported by Heritage Action and Americans for Prosperity, focused on the fact that over 80% of legislation is devoted to SNAP, pushing the total cost of the bill close to $1 trillion.

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