Farm bill delayed, but Perdue signals administration support

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Monday that he would recommend President Donald Trump sign the new farm bill that congressional negotiators agreed on even though it  wouldn’t tighten work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

However, the House and Senate will not act on the final legislation until at least next week. Lawmakers had planned to file the conference report on Tuesday, but that step has been delayed until next week because of the cancellation of votes to mourn the late President George H.W. Bush.

The House and Senate Agriculture committees have yet to release details of the agreement, but sources say it is largely silent on the issue of SNAP work rules, leaving it to USDA to move forward with plans to make it harder for states to get waivers from the existing work rules for able-bodied adults without dependents.

“I will advocate that he sign the bill even in light of the fact that we were not able to achieve all that he wanted and I wanted in the work requirements,” Perdue told reporters after addressing members of the Illinois Farm Bureau Monday in Chicago.

He made clear that the department would follow through with rewriting the waiver rules although he didn’t provide a timetable. He is expected to release the proposed rule shortly after the farm bill is passed.

“Through regulation we’ll be able to please those conservatives who expected more work requirements, as I did, as President Trump did. It was sad to find that Democrats on the Senate side refused to engage in that,” he said.

“We’ll be tightening up those waivers there,” he added. That “will encourage more work.”

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